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2023 MAC Football Week 6 Game Recap: Buffalo Bulls 37, Central Michigan Chippewas 13

The Bulls defense forces four turnovers to give Buffalo their second-straight victory— both in league play.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Buffalo at Wisconsin Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A career day from Buffalo strong safety Devin Grant paced the Buffalo Bulls (2-4, 2-0 MAC) to a vital cross-divisional league victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas (3-3, 1-1 MAC), as Grant’s two pick-sixes and three interceptions overall helped secure a 37-13 victory on Saturday afternoon.

Central Michigan forced an early Buffalo three-and-out to start the contest after deferring to the second half on the coin toss, but it didn’t matter much as just two plays later, a tipped pass hung in the air and found itself in the waiting arms of Devin Grant, who returned the ball for a 29-yard pick-six to put the Bulls up 7-0 at the 12:24 mark of the first quarter.

The two teams would settle down with an exchange of ineffective drives, as CMU was forced to punt from their own territory after an early holding penalty and Buffalo failed to convert on fourth-and-one from midfield to give the Chippewas the ball right back on a short drive of their own.

Lo and behold, on the very first play from scrimmage of the new drive, Central Michigan receiver Jalen McGaughy had the ball punched out of his hands as he was being pulled down on a first-down reception, with Buffalo’s Jaylon Bass recovering.

The Bulls would convert the turnover to points nine plays later, opting to kick the ball from 19 yards out with Alex McNulty instead of going for the touchdown to go up 10-0 with 3:13 to go in the first quarter.

CMU would respond on the next drive, capping off an 18-play, 75-yard drive lasting over seven minutes with a two-yard passing touchdown from Jase Bauer to Jesse Prewitt III on a fly sweep look to cut the UB lead to 10-3 with 11:04 to go in the first half. UB replied with a long drive of their own, taking 13 plays to go 50 yards before converting for a 44-yard McNulty field goal to once again make it a two-score game.

That would be as close as it would get for Central.

Devin Grant’s second interception of the game gave Buffalo short field to set up the offense for their first touchdown of the day on a two-yard Ron Cook Jr. run to go up 20-7 with 1:48 to go in the half, McNulty kicked a 46-yard field goal to end the first half and Devin Grant’s third quarter-opening pick-six would push the lead to 30-7 early in the second half to put the game well out of reach.

CMU’s offense could do nothing else, mustering a late touchdown on a five-yard touchdown pass from Bauer to Tyson Davis with 2:43 remaining to bring the score to its final 37-7 tally.

It was a statement win for the Bulls, who had been excoriated by media and fans in the first month of the season for going 0-4 to start the season and had looked languid to boot.

Now they share at least a split of the MAC East crown pending the results of the Ohio/Kent State and Miami/BGSU games thanks to their 2-0 record— despite their .333 winning percentage.

Devin Grant starred in the game for UB, becoming the first Bulls player to record a pick-six since Keyshawn Cobb in 2022 (vs. Ohio), and the first Bulls player to record three interceptions in a game since Marcus Fuqua in 2022 (vs. Toledo), finishing with an additional four tackles and a pass break-up.

The Bulls defense overall still gave up a lot of yards, with the Chips picking up 360 yards on 74 plays, but held the visiting team in check on key downs, with only 6-of-16 third downs and 2-of-4 fourth-down attempts converted. UB also forced four turnovers with three interceptions and a fumble recovery— with two additional forced fumbles which were very nearly called turnovers as well.

It was an impressive defensive effort without all-MAC linebacker Shaun Dolac in the lineup, who was out of the game due to a lower leg injury. Former FCS All-American backer Joe Andreessen and true freshman Dion Crawford led the way with six tackles each, while CJ Bazile recorded the team’s lone sack. Jayden Oliver led with two pass break-ups.

On offense, Ron Cook Jr. led the way for the Bulls, turning in two short-field touchdowns. He picked up 53 yards on 11 carries. Cole Snyder had a quiet day at the office, finishing 20-of-32 for 232 yards. Boobie Curry led the Bulls in receiving yards (74), and shared the lead for receptions (four each) with Cole Harrity (46 yards) and Marlyn Johnson (20 yards.)

For the Chippewas, the box score suggests a team who played much better than they did on film.

Jase Bauer played the whole game at quarterback, finishing 28-of-49 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, adding 31 yards to lead the team in rushing. Myles Bailey had 29 yards on 11 carries, fumbling twice. Running back Marion Lukes led all CMU receivers with seven catches for 73 yards, while Jesse Prewitt III (five catches, 49 yards) and Tyson Davis (five catches, 36 yards) each hauled in a touchdown.

Safety Trey Jones and linebacker Kyle Moretti shared the game lead with eight tackles apiece, while defensive lineman Jonah Pace picked up the team’s lone solo sack. Jacques Bristol and Fernano Sanchez Jr. combined for CMU’s other sack. Quindario Lee and Jarvarius Sims also collected a tackle-for-loss each.

Both teams return home for their next league matchup, with the Chippewas hosting the ailing Akron Zips next Saturday, while the Bulls seek to continue their winning streak and defend home turf against BGSU.

Both games are scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.