Ohio Bobcats (6-2, 3-1 MAC) vs. Buffalo Bulls (6-2, 4-0 MAC)
UB Stadium -- Buffalo, New York
Tuesday, Nov. 5 -- 8:00 p.m. E.T. -- TV: ESPN2
Both the Ohio Bobcats and the Buffalo Bulls had reason to have high expectations coming into the 2013 season. They each returned a core of experienced players, and had a favorable conference slate. Both the Bulls and Bobcats are right at the top of the MAC East, locked in a fight for supremacy. Tuesday night, these two MAC East heavyweights enter the ring live on national TV as weeknight #MACtion returns to UB Stadium for a critical match up that could determine who plays in Detroit for the MAC championship come Dec. 6.
The Bulls challenged themselves from the get-go but hardly looked good in their early games. A 40-20 showing at Ohio State was admirable, but Buffalo was entirely overwhelmed against a high-powered Baylor attack that put up 70 points against the Bulls. A weak, 26-23 victory over Stony Brook in five overtimes left many scratching their heads.
But then something clicked for the Bulls, who have since ripped off six consecutive dominant wins, yielding only 50 points in that stretch.
Besides Khalil Mack scaring opponents senseless, the rest of the Bulls defense has pitched in greatly to hold MAC opponents at their mercy. Mack himself has 54 tackles,11 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and three interceptions. Najja Johnson, Hustle Belt's 33rd ranked player in the conference, and Courtney Lester have three interceptions each. The Bulls are also first in the conference against the run.
The offense has maintained consistency, with senior running back Brandon Oliver providing much of the punch. Oliver gouged Kent State in the Bulls' last game, when he went for 185 yards and four touchdowns, all on the ground. Quarterback Joe Licata has played effectively, tossing 14 touchdowns (seven of them to the studly Alex Neutz) compared to four interceptions.
Conversely, the fighting Frank Solich's of Ohio come in having lost to Louisville and Central Michigan, but have brought out the offensive arsenal in victories over Eastern Michigan, Akron and Miami.
For Ohio, Tyler Tettleton has been on a tear as of late. Though drawing criticism from some Bobcat fans for some reason or another (high expectations in Athens are now ever present), Tettleton has been extremely sharp the last two weeks. The Sooner State senior has thrown for a combined 681 yards and seven touchdowns in the last two victories. Donte Foster was his favored target each of the last two weeks, hauling in a total of 19 receptions for 265 yards and four touchdowns. Beau Blankenship had the game that many have waited for all season. It may have been against winless Miami, but 172 yards on 20 carries is admirable any way you cut it.
Freshman defensive end Tarell Basham is picking up the slack after losing Ty Branz, who was among the MAC leaders in sacks at the time of his injury. The Bobcats are just four sacks away from being one of the top three defensive units in Bobcat history in terms of sacks. The all-time record for sacks by a Bobcat team is 38.
The two teams face off for the 20th time, with Ohio having won 12 of the contests compared to Buffalo's seven victories. With an Ohio loss, the Bobcats would fall behind Bowling Green in the East. With a win, they knot things up with Buffalo.
Catch it on ESPN2. It's Tuesday night #MACtion at 8 p.m.