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Buffalo Bulls vs. Central Michigan Chippewas football preview: Talkin' sMACk

The Chippewas have experienced a great amount of success against Buffalo lately, winning six of the last seven contests between the two teams. We're here to discuss whether or not this trend will continue.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Fries: Let me start off by saying, for some reason, Buffalo has never been an easy game for Central Michigan. In the last couple of match-ups,  you guys somehow manage to keep the score close, but can never come out with the victory. But this year, we have an even stronger team that's ready to finally blow out the Buffalo Bulls.

Matthew Gritzmacher: No one should take anything from Buffalo 2014, which feels like three seasons rolled into one, but I remember more self-inflicted wounds than good CMU play last year. Central may be improved, but they've earned my ire by not beating Western and as the season goes on a win over NIU will prove less valuable than people think. The big question for me: as exciting as Cooper Rush is, how will CMU's offense do against the only defense so far to hold Bowling Green below 30 points? No one cares about Buffalo in the first place, and no one especially cares about their defense.

Fries: I'll give you that one, the Bulls' defense was outstanding in keeping BGSU under 30 points. But, I think that the Chippewa offense has just begun to click, and Coach Bonamego's up-tempo play-calling style is helping bring the best out of the plethora of play makers on the offensive side of the ball. Even with starting running back Devon Spalding out for the year, Jahray Hayes has been impressive, along with Martez Walker. The already-proven passing attack will only be aided by a strong rushing game, led by this tandem.

Gritz: Speaking of injuries, if I remember correctly Central lost a linebacker against Western, yes? What's the status on him? I wish I could say the UB offense was clicking but I can at least hype their health. The good news Buffalo will be coming off a bye week and more time for Lance Leipold and staff to gameplan. Record aside, UB has been in a position to win every game this season, especially thanks to an aggressive front seven on defense and the national leader on pass breakups in Boise Ross.

Fries: That player was senior linebacker Tim Hamilton, who has been the defense's leader. He is doubtful to play on Saturday, which is a huge loss for the Central defense if he is unavailable. The Chippewa offensive line has been experiencing troubles lately, and if the Buffalo defensive front is as stout as you say, the Central o-line will have their hands full.

But, the Central Michigan defensive line is all healthy again, and rather dangerous. Blake Serpa and Joe Ostman will wreak havoc on any offensive line, and the Bulls will have to account for these two studs.

Gritz: It's all about the big plays from the Buffalo defense. While Rush will get stats Brandon Berry and Okezie Alozie will make their presence known, and I'm always excited for games in the trenches. On run blocking Buffalo's size (average OL: 314 pounds) likes  to push people around but Serpa can present a big problem. The pass game hasn't been there like it was last year, even if the raw numbers look OK. UB has the tools in Anthone Taylor and Jordan Johnson to win the game on the ground and control the clock but whether they do that is anyone's guess.

Fries: If the Chippewa defensive line can prevent big plays in the running game, I can see Central pulling away with this one. Our pass defense has been stout, as we kept Connor Cook (!!) under 200 yards passing. Has Joe Licata played up to expectations, so far? He will be facing a strong Chippewa defensive secondary.

Gritz: I've generally been less impressed with CMU's play than most, but I'll give you the MSU game. On Licata, No. Not at all. He had a record-breaking junior year and was on pace to enter top five all time in MAC passing TDs but this season has put up alright numbers alongside not particularly sharp play. It's not a secondary that will trouble him, but rather issues in his offensive line and sometimes predictable play calling. Fact is he's never been great when asked to throw 40+ times a game, and against Nevada and Bowling Green the defense did  enough to win while the offense shot themselves in the foot time and time again.  One thing he does have going for him is a great connection with TE Matt Weiser. Does the CMU secondary have anyone for a 6-5, 255 pass catcher with 18 receptions in the last two games?

Fries: CMU's safety Kavon Frazier will most likely be responsible for Weiser. He is a safety with the size and strength of a linebacker, which makes him a perfect candidate to guard such a big target.

So, I predict the game will end with a Chippewa victory, 31-16.

Gritz: That doesn't seem too far off, but as you started, Buffalo-CMU gets tight. I might not be surprised by 16 Buffalo points, but 31 CMU points and a two-touchdown margin of victory feels wrong. CMU 28-24.