Buffalo (4-7) vs. Bowling Green (7-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Columbus Crew Stadium (20,145) -- Columbus, Ohio. Television: BCSN, ESPN3. Home Record: UB 3-3, BGSU 4-1. Away Record: UB 1-4, BGSU 3-3. Neutral Record: UB 0-0, BGSU 0-0. Conference Record: UB 3-4, BGSU 5-2. Series Record: Bowling Green leads, 6-3.
GAME NOTES: The Bowling Green Falcons will try to bounce back as they head to Columbus Crew Stadium for a Black Friday brawl with their Mid-American Conference rival Buffalo Bulls.
The Bulls will try to continue their stampede into the offseason as they come in carrying a three-game winning streak. Unfortunately Buffalo's 1-7 start eliminated it from bowl contention before it managed to locate this momentum. The Bulls began their streak with a last second, 27-24 victory over Miami-Ohio courtesy of a 47-yard field goal by Patrick Clark. UB followed it up the next week with a successful fourth-quarter rally to a 29-24 win over Western Michigan in its final home game. The come-from behind trend continued last week when the Bulls overcame a 13-0 halftime deficit to bury Massachusetts, 29-19.
Bowling Green returns to action after a very disappointing, 31-24 loss to the No. 23 Kent State Golden Flashes in what was a battle for the MAC's East Division crown. BGSU tied the score at 24 early in the final frame of the contest, but could not respond after KSU jumped back in front. The Falcons entered the game on a six-game winning streak during which they outscored their opponents by an average 22.7 ppg. Despite not making it to the MAC Championship game, Dave Clawson's squad still has had a very successful season, especially considering it got off to a 1-3 start. The Falcons are bowl eligible for the first time in three years and have a chance to impress some selection committee's in this one.
This will be the 10th meeting between these programs in history. The Falcons have come out on top in six of the previous nine encounters. The game will be played at the neutral site of Columbus Crew Stadium in Ohio's capital city.
Buffalo's offense has a new general in Joe Lucata, who has been under center during the length of the current winning streak. Lucata set a career-high with 285 yards on 21-of-33 passing with a touchdown versus Western Michigan two weeks. He then went 18-of-30 for 226 yards with two TDs to one interception at UMass in the comeback win his last time out.
Buffalo is ranked only sixth in the MAC in rushing (193.2 ypg), but it would be much more productive if star running backs could stay healthy. Brandon Oliver has been unstoppable when available. In just six games, the junior tailback has rushed 139 ties for 801 yards and five touchdowns. Freshman Devin Campbell (508 yards, 109 attempts) is a very capable backup and junior Brandon Murie showed he also can carry the load by tallying 90 yards and a TD on 19 carries his last time out.
Alex Neutz is clearly the favorite target when a Buffalo QB drops back in the pocket. Neutz increased his season totals to 59 receptions, 923 yards, and 11 touchdowns (First in MAC) last week versus UMass. Devon Hughes is second to Neutz in each of those categories with 23 catches and 228 yards.
Buffalo's defense is limiting opponents to 368.6 yards per game, which is the second lowest average in the MAC. However, the Bulls are surrendering 29.2 ppg, which ranks in sixth in the league.
Khalil Mack and Colby Way have been a force up front all season long. Mack anchored the Bulls' defensive unit with a career-high 15 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles versus UMass to earn the East Division Player of the Week award for the second time this season. His effort gave the junior linebacker the school record for career tackles for loss (53.5). Way is second on the team in both TFLs (10.5) and sacks (seven).
The Bowling Green offense, which finished last in the nation in rushing in 2010, was unstoppable during its winning streak. The Falcons switched back to an air it out philosophy versus Kent State which led to a season-high 355 passing yards, but also three interceptions.
Although junior QB Matt Schilz was credited with the three interceptions, his decision making was not the cause of the miscues. The first hit off a wideout's hands, the second was tipped at the line, and the third was on the final play of the game. The contest was the first time Schilz was picked off more than once in a game this year after he registered four games with multiple interceptions last season.
Schilz lacks a clear favorite target this season as six different players have double digit receptions. Chris Gallon (42 rec., 586 yards), Shaun Joplin (36 rec. 552 yards), and Ryan Burbrink (33 rec., 278 yards) are three that have had their numbers called frequently.
Anthon Samuel may make this year's regular season finale a memorable occasion. The reigning MAC Freshman of the Year enters the contest just 30 yards shy of 1,000 single season rushing yards. Samuel has rushed for 100 yards or more in 10 of his 19 career games, but he was held to just 68 yards on 19 carries by KSU his last time out.
BGSU's defense ranks in the top 10 in the FBS in both total defense (298.1 ypg) and scoring defense (16.5 ppg). During their six-game winning streak, the Falcons held all six opponents to 14 points or less.
A big reason for the Falcons' success is senior DT Chris Jones. The veteran defensive lineman leads the MAC with 11.5 sacks and ranks second in the league with 17 tackles for loss this season. Jones has also forced a fumble and scored on a 23-yard return. Jude Adjei-Barimah is a big-time playmaker with a team- high four interceptions.
The Bulls were able to pull off a double-digit rally in the second half last week, but they were playing a program in its first year at the FBS level. BGSU's stifling defense will halt the Bulls and their winning streak as it has so many others this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bowling Green 21, Buffalo 17
11/21 10:50:57 ET