After only a week at home, Ohio is heading back on the road to face Buffalo at UB Stadium on Saturday.
The Bobcats (1-5, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) are coming off a disappointing 30-27 loss to Central Michigan on Homecoming. The Bulls (2-4, 0-2 MAC) are on a two-game losing streak after last falling to Kent State.
Ohio hasn’t faced Buffalo in two years. The two programs were supposed to face off in Athens last season, however issues on Ohio’s roster due to COVID-19 forced the game to be canceled the day before kickoff.
Here’s what to know about the Bulls ahead of this week’s matchup:
All-time record: Ohio leads 16-10.
Last time they played: Oct. 5, 2019. Ohio snatched a 21-20 overtime win in Amherst after starting its final drive on Buffalo’s 25-yard line. Buffalo had scored on its overtime drive, but kicker Jackson Baltar missed the extra point attempt to put it up by just six points. After O’Shaan Allison punched in a five-yard touchdown run, kicker Louie Zervos converted the extra point to seal the game for Ohio.
Buffalo report: Much like Ohio, Buffalo is in the midst of its first season under a new coach. Maurice Linguist, Buffalo’s defensive backs coach from 2012-13, is in command of a Buffalo squad that leads the MAC in scoring offense with an average of 31.2 points per game.
The Bulls rank third in the MAC for rushing offense, averaging 209.7 yards per game and have found the end zone 18 times while on the run. Their three-pronged running backs rotation of Kevin Marks, Dylan McDuffie and Ron Cook is among the most effective in the MAC this season. All three backs have rushed for over 300 yards through six games and have a combined 12 touchdowns.
Despite the high offensive production, Buffalo is without a winning record or a conference win thus far. It was able to go tit-for-tat with then-No.16 Coastal Carolina before losing 28-25, but was also blown out by Nebraska and beat Old Dominion by just a point.
While Buffalo totes one of the best offenses in the MAC, its defense leaves much to be desired. It allowed over 400 yards passing against Kent State, and ranks tenth in the conference for passing defense. Buffalo has allowed over 400 yards of total offense in each of its last five games, including a season-high 633 yards to Kent State.
How Ohio beats Buffalo: Explosive run game and stringent defense. It sounds simple, but Ohio has struggled with the latter this season, especially when opponents are on the run. Marks, McDuffie and Cook are all bound to see action on Saturday, and must be on top of Ohio’s list of priorities.
Getting the rushing attack going won’t be difficult. Ohio’s running backs have performed best in their first two games of conference play, and a limp Buffalo rushing defense may lead to a successful afternoon.
Stat to know: 10-6. That’s Ohio’s record against the Bulls since they joined the MAC in 1998.
Player to watch: James Patterson, linebacker, No. 8
The twin brother of former Bulls running back and 2020 Vern Smith Leadership Award winner Jaret Patterson, the senior has built a reputation of his own on defense. Patterson has started in all but three games for the Bulls since 2018, and was a First Team All-MAC linebacker last season.
This season, Patterson has almost eclipsed his tackle total from last season. He’s recorded 59 tackles through six games, and has one interception to his name. Against Western Michigan in Week 5, Patterson recorded a career-high 14 tackles. With four years of starting experience under his belt and the stats to back it up, Patterson is bound to give Ohio fits on Saturday.