The last time these two teams met, an automatic bid into the NCAA March Madness Tournament was on the line at the Q in Cleveland. While the stakes aren't nearly as high this time around, this game between Buffalo and Central Michigan will surely be a close contest with plenty of storylines.
The Buffalo Bulls (2-3, 0-1 MAC) travel to Mt. Pleasant two weeks after nearly completing a furious comeback rally against the MAC East contenders Bowling Green. Coming into this game, the Bulls have had an offense that has shown a surprising amount of balance, garnering 403.6 yards per game. Buffalo also has a sieve for a defense, allowing 400 yards per game, while averaging 21.8 allowed per game. The Bulls want to get off the snide; they've lost two weeks in a row by single-digit scores, and should come back off the BYE week refreshed.
The Central Michigan Chippewas (2-4, 1-1 MAC) have been ruminating over a pivotal 41-39 rivalry loss to Western Michigan that pushed them from tied for first in the West to tied for third. CMU allowed a 100-yard rusher for the second time in a row after a 12-game streak of stopping such runners, which could prove to be a problem if the running game gets going for Buffalo. CMU also didn't have a single receiver go over 92 yards last week, which indicated depth, but no true "go-to" receiver to depend upon. CMU will be looking to get back towards .500 with a home win.
How to Watch
Date and Time: October 17th, 2015, at 1 p.m. Eastern.
Where: Kelly/Shorts Stadium (30,000) in Mt. Pleasant, MI.
TV/Streaming: The game will not be televised. However, it will be streamed on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, which both require a valid cable subscription.
Radio: For a Central perspective, tune in to WCFX 95.3 FM's live stream or the Central Michigan Gameday App, which can be downloaded in the Apple and Google Play stores. For a Buffalo perspective, tune in to ESPN 1520 AM.
Players to Watch:
Jahray Hayes (RB) -- Hayes has emerged as an option in the ground game for Central, gaining 58 yards and a touchdown vs. Western Michigan last week. In that game, Hayes showed spurts of potential, especially on a 15-yard endzone scamper that brought the Chips within two. Hayes will need to take advantage of a Bulls defense that hasn't shown a lot in the running department.
Josh Cox (DB)-- Cox hasn't collected an interception yet, but with how closely he has covered his targets, it won't be soon before long. On the season, he has 21 total tackles and six pass breakups. Cox got some deserved criticism after trying to jump a route on a crucial fourth-down toss as the game expired, but looks to bounce back against a Buffalo receiving corps that has some underrated playmakers, including Marcus McGill, Jacob Martinez, and Ron Willoughby.
Joe Licata (QB) -- It feels like Licata has been the quarterback of the Buffalo Bulls forever now, bu here he is, still sligning footballs like it's no one's business. One of the more underappreciated passers in the MAC, Licata currently has 1,242 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season. Five interceptions are a bit of a concern, but Licata has been around long enough to be able to persevere, Look for him to find Willoughby early and often.
Nick Gilbo (LB) -- Gilbo has done a great job playing the linebacker spot this season, amassing 44 tackles in five games thus far, with 6.5 tackles for loss on the season. Gilbo really is the everything man on this squad, with two sacks, two pass breakups on three passes defended, one interception, and a safety. The man is a veritable turnover creator, The CMU offensive line, which has struggled this year, will have their hands full with this matchup.
Odds and Ends
Odds: According to OddsSharks, the line for this game is Central Michigan by 6.5 points at home. The over/under is 56, with 53% of bettors choosing Buffalo to win, while 51% or bettors take the under.
Weather: According to the Weather Channel, gametime temperatures should be between 40 and 45 degrees, with only a 20% chance of precipitation, diminishing as the game progresses. Expect mostly cloudy skies with a good wind from the northwest at 10 MPH.