Buffalo (5-2) at Kent State (2-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 26, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dix Stadium (25,319) -- Kent, Ohio. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Buffalo 4-0, Kent St. 1-2. Away Record: Buffalo 1-2, Kent St. 1-4. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-0, Kent St. 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 3-0, Kent St. 1-3. Series Record: Kent State leads, 10-9.
GAME NOTES: The streaking Buffalo Bulls put their flawless conference record on the line this weekend when they take on the Kent State Golden Flashes in Mid-American Conference action at Dix Stadium.
The Bulls tied their longest win streak in FBS history (since 1999) with last week's 32-3 blasting of Massachusetts. Jeff Quinn's Bulls dropped their first two games of the season, but have reeled off five straight victories and sit atop the MAC's East Division standings, tied with Bowling Green at 3-0.
The Golden Flashes come into this contest looking to end a three-game skein that has dropped Kent State to a mere 2-6 overall and 1-3 in conference play. Paul Haynes' team took a break from league action last weekend but it didn't change its fortunes, falling on the road at South Alabama, 38-21.
The Golden Flashes hold a narrow 10-9 series advantage, breaking a tie with last season's 23-7 victory at Buffalo.
Tailback Branden Oliver was unstoppable last week for Buffalo, rumbling for a school-record 216 yards in the win over UMass. A true workhorse, Oliver is the school's all-time leading rusher (3,203) and is averaging 114.8 yards per game on 4.6 yards per carry this year. He is responsible for half of the team's 10 rushing scores to date.
His ability to move the chains and keep defenses focused on him, allows quarterback Joe Licata to operate. Licata hasn't exactly taken advantage though, as his numbers passing are modest to say the least, completing 59.8 percent of his throws for 1,284 yards, with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. Alex Neutz has been the team's primary target in the passing game, leading the team in receptions (36), receiving yards (553) and TD catches (six).
The Buffalo defense has had its moments this season, including completely shutting down UMass a week ago. On the year, the Bulls are allowing 23.1 ppg, with foes averaging 382.7 yards per outing. Getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks has been a strength, with 24 sacks on the season.
All-American candidate Khalil Mack is the heart-and-soul of the defense. The senior linebacker is third on the team in tackles (44), but tops in TFL (10) and sacks (6). with two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Fellow senior LB Adam Redden is a playmaker as well, leading the team in tackles (49), with 8.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries.
The Golden Flashes have been inconsistent on the offensive side of the ball this season, averaging just 19.1 ppg on 347.5 yards of total offense.
A ground game that is averaging 164.0 yards per game is led by tailback Trayion Durham, who has 501 yards on the season. However, his three rushing TDs represent half of the team's total of just six scores. Dri Archer (7.6 ypc) has been in and out of the lineup this season, but his return to form could help out an offense in need of a lift going forward.
Youngster Colin Reardon leads a modest passing attack that is netting just 183.5 yards per game. Reardon, who is nursing an ankle injury, is completing just under 60 percent of his passes this season, for 1,199 yards, with 10 TDs and four INTs. Wideout Chris Humphrey has been the top receiving threat, with 38 catches, for 439 yards and three scores.
Where Kent State has really struggled is on defense. Opponents are averaging 30.9 ppg and have found success both running (228.3 ypg) and passing (239.8 ypg) the ball. A lack of big plays has also been problematic, with KSU amassing just 12.5 sacks and nine takeaways in the first eight games.
Senior safety Luke Wollet leads the unit with 62 total tackles. Sophomore linebacker Matt Dellinger is a close second with 55 stops.
These two teams are heading in opposite directions. Despite getting this game at home, Kent State hasn't shown the ability to excel on both sides of the ball. Buffalo isn't an offensive juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination, but Oliver and company should be able to keep the Golden Flashes at arm's length in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 33, Kent State 24
10/23 10:58:59 ET