The chase for the Mid-American Conference Eastern Division championship should be close and intense, and it could involve several teams. Two of the teams expected to be at the head of that chase meet on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET at University of Buffalo Stadium in Amherst, New York.
The game will be the first MAC game of the season for the Bowling Green Falcons and the Buffalo Bulls. Both arrive at this point in their schedules with 2-2 records, but the teams' fortunes diverge when you look past the record. After an opening 29-point loss to Tennessee, BGSU rolled Maryland by 21, lost to undefeated Memphis by three, then most recently won at Purdue in the final seconds. Buffalo has defeated Florida Atlantic and FCS opponent Albany but has fallen by double-digits to Penn State and, last week, at home to 2-2 Nevada.
This game may be a conference opener, but it's very important. The winner will hold a key tiebreaker over a division foe and will have early momentum. The loser will be playing catch-up for the remainder of the season. After this tilt, the Falcons play three of their next four at home, all against MAC East teams. The Bulls have three of four on the road, including a contest in two weeks at Central Michigan.
QUCK GAME INFO
Game date and time: Saturday, October 3rd at 3:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. CT)
Location: University of Buffalo Stadium in Amherst, N.Y.
Television: Time Warner Cable Sports; Buckeye Cable Sports Network
Streaming: You can stream the game live online at ESPN3.com or via the Watch ESPN mobile app.
Radio: BGSU fans can listen to the Falcon Radio Network on 99.1-FM WFRO (Fremont), 106.5 FM/1470 AM WLRQ (Toledo) and other stations in the northern Ohio area. You can also stream the game live through BGSUFalcons.com.
Buffalo fans can listen to the Bulls' broadcast at WWKB, 1520-AM in Buffalo, N.Y. or online here.
Live stats: Follow the game online with live official stats through the University of Buffalo athletics website.
Odds: The Bowling Green Falcons are currently listed as a 7.5-8.5 point favorite (depending on the outlet) with an over/under for the game of 67-68 points. The line has remained relatively stable since it opened at the beginning of the week. (Information obtained from Oddsshark.com)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Anthone Taylor (RB, Buffalo) - In the last meeting with BGSU, Taylor ran wild. He carried the rock 36 times for 219 yards and scored three touchdowns. It will likely be a disappointment if he doesn't get at least 30 carries in this game.
Matt Weiser (TE, Buffalo) - When Joe Licata does throw the ball, this guy makes an imposing target. He caught 10 balls for 131 yards and a touchdown last week, and he could create problems for a defense geared to stop the run.
Nick Gilbo (LB, Buffalo) - Gilbo also had a strong game last week, as he put up 12 tackles and a sack against Nevada. He leads the team with 2.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. BGSU has allowed 13 sacks in four games, so Gilbo could be a disruptive force.
Boise Ross (CB, Buffalo) - UB has allowed just 182.8 passing yards per game and Ross is a huge reason why. He leads the country in passes defensed with 12, including two interceptions and ten pass break-ups. Could the Falcons run more this week?
Travis Greene (RB, BGSU) - Greene is 638 yards shy of the BGSU all-time rushing record and scored the game-winning TD versus Purdue. Buffalo is allowing 183.8 yards per game on the ground. The Falcons may give the Bulls a heavy dose of Greene on Saturday.
Roger Lewis (WR, BGSU) - Lewis has had two big games and two very pedestrian ones so far. He's a good bet to get coverage from Ross. Can he have another bust-out game and, if not, will the Falcon offense suffer?
Taylor Royster (DE, BGSU) - Royster will be key to both getting pressure on Licata (he leads the Falcons with three of the team's seven sacks) and to setting the edge for containment of Taylor. He needs to have a big game.
Bowling Green has won 12 consecutive games against MAC East opponents. Their last divisiional loss came on November 17, 2012 at home against #25 Kent State (31-24). They've also won nine straight on the road against MAC East teams. Their last road defeat in the division? Nearly four years ago, on October 29, 2011, also against Kent State (27-15).
The BGSU-Buffalo series is only 12 games old, but it's been dominated by the road team. The home team won the first two games, in 2000 and 2001. However, they've played every year since 2005, and the road team has won seven of those ten games -- including BGSU's five straight wins in Buffalo.
The BGSU-Buffalo series has also seen some very close games. Six of the 12 meetings have been decided by eight points or less, including the double-overtime 2008 game that gave Buffalo it's only East Division title.