FACTS & STATS: Site: Doyt Perry Stadium (23,724) — Bowling Green, Ohio.
Television: ESPN Game Plan, ESPN3.com. Home Record: Buffalo 3-1, Bowling Green
2-0. Away Record: Buffalo 0-1, Bowling Green 1-2. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-0,
Bowling Green 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 1-0, Bowling Green 1-0. Series
Record: Bowling Green leads, 8-3.
GAME NOTES: Despite some early-season injuries to key players, the Bowling
Green Falcons have won three of their last four games and will look to stretch
the streak against the Buffalo Bulls in a Mid-American Conference bout at Doyt
Perry Stadium this weekend.
Buffalo is on a streak of its own, having won two games in a row against
Norfolk State and Miami-Ohio, respectively. The Bulls will try to reach 2-0
in MAC play to take a firm grasp on the East Division, although going to
Bowling Green will be a tall order.
The Falcons were destroyed by Wisconsin two weeks ago, but that was to be
expected against one of the nation’s top teams and most potent offenses. The
Falcons rebounded nicely with an offensive onslaught against UMass last
weekend, defeating the Minutemen by a 47-42 score thanks to steady play at
both the quarterback and running back spots.
The Falcons have a solid advantage in the all-time series against Buffalo.
These two conference rivals have met on the field 12 times, with Bowling Green
owning the 8-3 edge head-to-head. This is the first game against Buffalo at
Doyt Perry Stadium since the 2010 season.
Buffalo jumped ahead of Miami-Ohio early in last weekend’s contest and never
looked back, although the RedHawks were never too far out of reach in the
Bulls’ eight-point win. Buffalo was led by a strong running game, as Anthone
Taylor broke out with 222 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries in
the win. Taylor has been dominant in five games this season, rushing for 579
yards and six touchdowns with a 115.8 rushing ypg average. As a group, Buffalo
racks up 181.6 rushing ypg.
Of course, the Bulls are led on offense by veteran quarterback Joe Licata, who
threw for 276 yards and two touchdowns last weekend against Miami. Licata is a
multi-year starter under center, and has been efficient through five games
played. The junior has completed 66.1 percent of his passes this season for
1,375 yards with 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He’s the only
player on the team besides Taylor to have a rushing touchdown as well.
Licata has a number of reliable targets to which he can throw, and it seems to
vary every weekend. Against the RedHawks, it was Jacob Martinez, who hauled in
eight receptions for 94 yards and a score. Ron Willoughby leads the team with
24 receptions, 322 yards and is tied for the team lead with four touchdown
catches. Devon Hughes is the other pass catcher to haul in four scores through
five games. Buffalo is averaging 303.6 passing ypg.
After a rough start to the season, the Buffalo defense seems to finally be
settling down. In the last two games, the Bulls have given up seven points (to
Norfolk State) and 27 points (to Miami), respectively. The unit limited Miami
to 13 first downs and a 27-percent success rate of third down last weekend,
but will have a much tougher time with a high-powered Bowling Green attack.
Through five games, opponents are scoring 34.4 ppg against the Bulls, who also
allow 418.8 offensive ypg. Linebacker Lee Skinner is the team’s top tackler
with 31, adding two tackles for loss, a sack, two quarterback hurries and a
fumble recovery. Skinner and Adam Redden have been the top two playmakers in
star linebacker Khalil Mack’s absence. Redden has notched a team-high five
tackles for loss and two sacks thus far.
Not only is Bowling Green riding high after a strong offensive performance
from last weekend, but it’s also Homecoming on the BGSU campus. A win over
Buffalo this weekend would be the fourth straight in the all-time series, and
would improve Bowling Green’s MAC record to 2-0. Going against an up-and-down
Buffalo defense shouldn’t scare off quarterback James Knapke, who is the full-
time starter following Matt Johnson’s season-ending hip injury. Knapke was
fantastic against UMass a week ago, throwing for 443 yards with three
touchdowns. The downside was that Knapke gave the Minutemen unnecessary
offensive opportunities with three interceptions.
Turnovers have been a problem for the starter, having thrown six interceptions
to seven touchdown passes this season. But he’s done a stellar job making use
of a receiving corps also missing Chris Gallon. Roger Lewis and Ronnie Moore
each lead the team with three touchdown receptions, while Ryan Burbrink’s
standout game against UMass has him in the mix for more targets.
Travis Greene and Fred Coppet have the running game for the Falcons locked
down. Greene leads the team with 466 yards and six touchdowns, while Coppet
has tallied four scores in five games. The Bowling Green offense is a
versatile one, averaging 181.2 rushing ypg and 319 passing ypg.
Despite losing strong players on the offensive side of the ball, it’s been
Bowling Green’s defense that has been the Achilles’ heel this season. The
Falcons are surrendering 43.6 ppg, and a whopping 620.4 total offensive ypg to
opponents. Winless Massachusetts was able to rack up 638 yards offensively
last weekend, and that was without any semblance of a run game (49 yards on
the ground). The Falcons have allowed 17 rushing touchdowns through five games
What Buffalo running back Anthone Taylor did last weekend, he will try to
duplicate against a terrible Bowling Green run defense. Linebacker Gabe Martin
and defensive back Brian Sutton (who leads the team with 43 tackles) will have
to be aware of everything Buffalo can do on offense. At least the Falcons have
been adept at forcing turnovers, having been responsible for three
interceptions and eight fumble recoveries.
This should be another offensive battle, with Bowling Green getting a boost
being among the Homecoming crowd. Buffalo is the more well-rounded team, but
if the Falcons get another strong offensive performance from Knapke and Greene
they will be hard to stop. It is risky, though, to rely on a big offensive
game for wins. Bowling Green will find that out eventually, but perhaps not
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 38, Buffalo 32