Buffalo (3-3) at Eastern Michigan (1-4) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Rynearson Stadium (30,200) — Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Buffalo 3-1, Eastern Michigan 1-0. Away
Record: Buffalo 0-2, Eastern Michigan 0-4. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-0,
Eastern Michigan 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 1-1, Eastern Michigan 0-1.
Series Record: Eastern Michigan leads, 5-1.

GAME NOTES: Coming off a heartbreaking loss to conference rival Bowling Green,
the Buffalo Bulls will look to bounce back against the Eastern Michigan Eagles
as they travel to Ypsilanti Saturday for a Mid-American Conference clash at
Rynearson Stadium.

Buffalo and Bowling Green bounced back and forth on the scoreboard, but
ultimately it was the Falcons who ended up with the 36-35 win in front of
their Homecoming crowd in Ohio last weekend. The loss snapped a two-game win
streak for the Bulls.

Eastern Michigan has lost four games in a row, and all have been pretty one-
sided contests. The Eagles defeated FCS program Morgan State to start the
year, but were demolished by Florida, Old Dominion, Michigan State and, most
recently, MAC rival Akron last weekend. The game against Buffalo will be the
team’s first home matchup since Week 1 of the season.

Buffalo and Eastern Michigan have met on the field six times in their program
histories, with Eastern Michigan owning the 5-1 all-time series record. The
clashes between the two MAC foes began back in the 2001 season.

Buffalo has employed a crushing ground attack on its last few opponents, and
that was certainly the case last weekend against Bowling Green. Running back
Anthone Taylor had another stellar game, rushing for 219 yards and three
touchdowns on 36 carries. He had the potential game-winning score in the
fourth quarter until a Falcons touchdown with just over two minutes to play
spoiled the Bulls’ potential victory. In six games played, Taylor has rushed
for 798 yards and nine touchdowns – six of which have come in the last two
games alone. Buffalo is averaging 190.3 rushing ypg this season.

b Other than Taylor, quarterback Joe Licata is the only other Buffalo player
have a rushing score this season. Licata has been consistently strong this
season, having thrown for 1,509 yards and 15 touchdowns against five
interceptions. He struggled a bit against Bowling Green, completing 16 passes
for just 134 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

The Buffalo offense is averaging 34 ppg this season, and has proven to be a
versatile offense with its 275.3 passing ypg mark. Licata has a trusted group
of receivers to bank on, namely in Ron Willoughby who has a team-leading 356
yards and five touchdowns on 28 receptions. Six Buffalo players have double-
digit receptions this season.

While Buffalo’s offense has been getting the job done, seemingly enough to win
games, the team’s defense has been slacking a bit, allowing at least 27 points
to opponents in five of the program’s six games this season. The team is
averaging 34.7 ppg surrendered to opponents, and 433.7 total offensive ypg as
well. The Bulls could use standout linebacker Khalil Mack back, even if for
some direction rather than production.

Linebacker Lee Skinner tops the team with 42 tackles this season, adding two
tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery to his resume. It’s been
linebacker/defensive back Adam Redden that has stepped into the role of top
defender for the Bulls, having notched 37 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, three
sacks and two forced fumbles to this point in the year. Although Buffalo has
seven fumble recoveries this season, the team has recorded only a single
interception in six games.

Eastern Michigan got on the board first against Akron with an 18-yard
touchdown pass from Rob Bolden to Tyler Allen, but that was the last time the
Eagles would add any points to their cause. The Akron Zips went on the trounce
the Eagles in a MAC contest, 31-6, marking the fourth consecutive loss for
Eastern Michigan. Aside from the touchdown pass, Bolden was unspectacular,
throwing for just 185 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He was also
sacked three times in the loss.

Bolden has earned the starting job after the Eagles went through players like
Brogan Roback and Reginald Bell under center. Bolden has been consistently
below average, though, throwing for three touchdowns, four interceptions and
just 320 yards in four games. As a team, EMU is averaging 103.2 passing ypg
(fourth-worst in the FBS) and is averaging 10.8 ppg (tied for second-worst in
the nation).

The run game hasn’t been much better. Bronson Hill leads the Eagles with 233
yards this season on the ground, with no touchdowns. EMU has scored just three
times via rushing touchdowns in five games – two have come from Ryan
Brumfield. As a unit, Eastern Michigan is averaging 125.8 rushing ypg.

You have to take the team’s defensive statistics with a grain of salt. The
Eagles are surrendering 42.8 ppg (second worst in the FBS behind SMU), but the
competition the team has played has been over-the-top strong. But even against
Akron, which has been an average offensive team this season, the Eagles
couldn’t slow the Zips.

Linebacker Great Ibe has a team-best 51 tackles, and defensive lineman Pat
O’Connor has been stellar with seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks through
five games. But as a whole, Eastern Michigan has only recorded four turnovers
(two interceptions, two fumble recoveries), and has lost 13 fumbles and thrown
four interceptions. The Eagles are therefore minus-13 in the turnover ratio –
last in the FBS.

Buffalo may be coming off a tough defeat at the hands of Bowling Green, but
there may not be a team more off its mark than Eastern Michigan at the moment.
The Eagles are struggling on the offensive side of the ball, leaving the
defense out on the field for far too long against strong opponents. Expect the
Bulls to run all over the Eagles with Taylor this weekend, and for Redden and
Skinner to shut Hill, Bolden and the rest of the EMU lineup down.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 33, Eastern Michigan 14