Miami-Ohio (4-4) at Buffalo (1-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 3, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UB Stadium (29,013) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Miami 3-0, Buffalo 1-3. Away Record: Miami 1-4, Buffalo 0-4. Neutral Record: Miami 0-0, Buffalo 0-0. Conference Record: Miami 3-1, Buffalo 0-4. Series Record: Miami-Ohio leads, 12-2.
GAME NOTES: The Miami-Ohio RedHawks look to take their success on the road as they invade UB Stadium for Mid-American Conference action with the struggling Buffalo Bulls.
Miami became the first team in the country to defeat Ohio University last week with a defensive charged 23-20 upset of the No. 23 Bobcats in Oxford. The win not only spoiled Ohio's perfect record, it also kept Miami in contention for the MAC Championship. The RedHawks will advance to the MAC title game if they win all four of their remaining regular season games and Bowling Green suffers one loss during that time.
Buffalo was handed its sixth straight loss when it was defeated 25-20 by Toledo at home last week. The Bulls played tough on both sides of the ball, but could not manage to pull out the win over the West Division leading Rockets. The Bulls' lone win this season came at home against Morgan State of the FCS. However, Buffalo's 1-7 overall and 0-4 league marks are slightly misleading due to the quality of competition thus far. The Bulls' losses came to three schools from BCS conferences (Georgia, Connecticut, Pitt) and four MAC opponents with one combined loss in league action (Kent State, Ohio University, Northern Illinois, Toledo).
This will be the 15th meeting in history between these MAC rivals. The RedHawks hold a 12-2 lead in the all-time series after last season's 41-13 victory over Buffalo in Oxford.
Miami's offense relies on its aerial attack, which is the second best in the MAC with 288.6 ypg. Zac Dysert has delivered some inspiring performances this season, the most notable of which was his 500-yard passing and 100-yard rushing game versus Akron. The senior quarterback enters Saturday with 10, 755 career passing yards, which leaves him 75 yards shy of breaking Ben Roethlisberger's nine-year old school record. Dysert has passed for over 300 yards in two of his last three games, but he has thrown four touchdowns and six interceptions during that span.
Dawan Scott has emerged as one of the elite receivers in the MAC this season. Despite missing the team's game at Bowling Green, he has tallied a team-high 595 yards and five touchdowns on 36 receptions. Andy Cruse is the top possession wideout on the team with 54 catches. Nick Harwell was the go-to-guy in the upset of Ohio as he made eight grabs for 138 yards and a score in the contest. A late season breakout by Harwell (436 yards, 31 catches, three TDs) could propel Miami into the league title game. Harwell was one of the elite wideouts in the MAC last season with 1,425 yards, 97 receptions, and nine TDs.
While the RedHawks are blessed with dependable pass-catchers, the running game has been less stellar with Jamire Westbrook (263 yards) leading the way and Spencer Treadwell (187 yards) right behind him in the least productive rushing offense in the MAC.
Miami's defense has yet to slow down an FBS opponent. The defense has allowed its seven FBS opponents to gain an average of 516.6 yards of total offense per game. The RedHawks went into its bout with Ohio allowing 285.3 rushing yards per game, but they limited the Bobcats to 162 rushing yards and their star tailback Beau Blankenship to just 74 yards. Miami also recorded six sacks, which equaled its total number of sacks entering the game.
Chris Wade is the team's leading tackler with 86 stops on the season including 5.5 for loss. Mike Johns (6.0 TFL) and Mwanza Wamulumba (5.0 TFL) supply pressure from the line. Senior LB Pat Hinkel's great defensive awareness and anticipation has yielded 53 stops, three interceptions, and a defensive score.
Buffalo's offense has struggled this season due to injuries and turnover issues. Buffalo has the worst turnover margin in the MAC (-11) this season. The team is averaging 386 yards of total offense and only 20.4 points per contest, but Branden Oliver's return to action will make a positive impact to both the rushing and passing attacks.
Buffalo has the sixth-best rushing attack in the MAC (190.5 ypg), but it could rise in the rankings with Oliver (2,220 career rushing yards) in the backfield. The junior tailback tallied 101 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries versus Toledo after missing the previous four games.
Freshman running back Devin Campbell carried the load when Oliver was sidelined and could be subbed in if the offense needs a spark. The rookie halfback became the first true freshman with two 100-rushing yard performances in school history by terrorizing Ohio (160 yards) and Pittsburgh (104 yards).
Under center for UB, Alex Zordich has just two more touchdown passes (nine) than interceptions on the season after going 5-of-16 for 118 yards with a TD in last week's loss to Toledo. Zordich has room for improvement when it comes to his passing accuracy as he is connecting on only 51 percent of his attempts this season. He has 1,254 yards through the air and also 501 rushing yards, which is the second most on the squad.
Alex Neutz is clearly Zordich's favorite target when he drops back in the pocket. Neutz increased his season totals to 39 receptions, 647 yards, and eight touchdowns (First in MAC) by making six grabs for 135 yards and a score versus Toledo. Devon Hughes is second to Neutz in each of those categories with 22 catches, 221 yards, and one touchdown.
Buffalo's defense is limiting opponents to 384.3 yards per game, which is the third lowest average in the MAC. However, the Bulls are surrendering 31.8 ppg, which ranks 92nd among the 120 teams in the FBS.
Khalil Mack has been a force up front for Buffalo thus far with 13 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, which lead the team and rank first and sixth on the conference leaderboard, respectively. Mack has also tallied a team-leading 58 total tackles. Colby Way (four sacks) has also been impressive in the pass rush.
Both these teams are coming off of their best performances of the season. Buffalo is growing more and more anxious for a victory, while Miami-Ohio has its sights set on a trip to Detroit for the conference title game. The RedHawks need Dysert to limit his turnovers this week against the scrappy Bulls.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Ohio 27, Buffalo 21
10/31 11:01:07 ET