Buffalo (3-5) at Ohio (4-5) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Peden Stadium (24,000) — Athens, Ohio. Television:
ESPNU. Home Record: Buffalo 3-2, Ohio 3-1. Away Record: Buffalo 0-3, Ohio 1-4.
Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-0, Ohio 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 1-3, Ohio
2-3. Series Record: Ohio leads, 12-8.

GAME NOTES: The Buffalo Bulls will desperately try to put a stop to a three-
game skid as they travel to Ohio to face the Ohio University Bobcats at Peden
Stadium in a Mid-American Conference bout Wednesday night.

Buffalo has lost three straight games, including the team’s most recent defeat
at the hands of Central Michigan, 20-14. Amidst those three losses, the
Buffalo athletic department announced the firing of head coach Jeff Quinn back
on Oct. 13. Quinn was replaced with interim head coach Alex Wood, who was at
the helm for the team’s latest loss.

Ohio has dropped three of its last four games, including the latest contest
against Western Michigan, 42-21. Only a win over in-state rival Akron, 23-20,
back on Oct. 18 is separating the Bobcats from a devastating losing streak.

Ohio leads the all-time series with Buffalo, 12-8, in a rivalry that began
back in the 1949 season. These two teams met last season in Buffalo, which saw
the Bulls come away with a 30-3 victory.

It’s a different type of season for the Bulls, who lost two extremely
productive players in the offseason to the NFL. Linebacker Khalil Mack and
running back Branden Oliver were crucial parts to the 2013 squad and were
replaced in the offseason with running back Anthone Taylor and
linebacker/defensive back Adam Redden. But the Bulls have struggled to
maintain any sort of success this season, despite the playmakers.

Quarterback Joe Licata, who piloted the Buffalo offense a year ago, has been
stellar once again. The junior quarterback has thrown for 2,125 yards and 20
touchdowns against nine interceptions. He has a completion percentage of 64.6,
and a passer efficiency rating of 146.4. His 265.6 passing ypg is very
effective for the MAC, yet the team still struggles to close out games.

Perhaps the biggest surprise this season for the Bulls has been Taylor in the
backfield. The junior back has carried the ball 197 times for 951 yards and
nine touchdowns, averaging 118.9 rushing ypg. His ineffectiveness against
Central Michigan may have been the largest reason for defeat, as Taylor gained
just 25 yards on 14 carries in the loss. Still, he’s produced solid numbers
for a team averaging 30.6 ppg.

That must mean the blame should fall on the defense, which is surrendering
33.1 ppg and 428.4 offensive ypg to opponents. In the team’s current three-
game losing streak, Buffalo hasn’t been outscored by much. In those three
defeats, the Bulls have lost by a combined 17 points, with a one-point loss to
Bowling Green starting the slide. In eight games played, the Buffalo defense
has recorded a mere two interceptions.

Linebacker Lee Skinner tops the team in tackles with 68 through eight games,
while Redden falls into second on the squad with 55. The fiery Redden, who has
a team-best 41 solo stops, is the Buffalo leader in tackles for loss (12),
sacks (five) and forced fumbles (three). Aside from Redden and Skinner, the
Bulls’ defense has been very pedestrian, registering 10.5 sacks and 13
quarterback hurries minus the top two defenders.

Ohio and Western Michigan were knotted at 7-7 when the first quarter ended
back on Oct. 25, but the Broncos were the ones who exploded in the second
frame with 21 points, thanks to the deadly combination of freshman running
back Jarvion Franklin and quarterback Zach Terrell. Ohio was helpless in the
second quarter, including backup quarterback Derrius Vick tossing an
interception returned for a touchdown.

Vick got the majority of reps under center in the contest, and has earned the
starting role once again as JD Sprague hasn’t proved much. Vick was replaced
by Sprague at the top of the depth chart earlier in the season, but Sprague,
who has three touchdown passes and three interceptions this season, couldn’t
get the job done, surrendering his spot to Vick. The Bobcats are passing for
222.6 ypg and are scoring just 19 ppg in nine contests.

The run game for the Bobcats has been another up-and-down focus this season,
and sometimes depends on the health of starter A.J. Ouellette, who didn’t play
in the team’s latest outing. Ouellette leads the team with 407 rushing yards
and four touchdowns this season, although Daz’mond Patterson performed
relatively well against WMU in Ouellette’s place with 56 yards and his first
touchdown this year.

The Ohio defense will have its second tough test against Buffalo’s strong
offense this Wednesday. The Bobcats allowed Franklin to gain 156 yards and
score three touchdowns on Oct. 25, as the Broncos ran for 186 yards on the
ground. Taylor won’t be easy to stop either, and Licata is a better
quarterback than WMU’s Terrell. Getting to the backfield early will be a key
focus for the Bobcats.

That means linebackers Quentin Poling (62 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, four
sacks) and Jovon Johnson (54 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks) will
need to be extremely active up front, and will have to help collapse the
pocket around Licata. Safety Josh Kristoff (two interceptions) and Poling
(three interceptions) will be counted on to contain the Buffalo passing

This will be the perfect test for Buffalo to see if the team can get back on
track after an poor few weeks. The Bobcats aren’t very adept offensively, so
as long as Taylor and Licata are on point, the Bulls should be able to
outscore Ohio with ease. Being on the road may make it difficult, but Ohio’s
rotating door of quarterbacks has yet to have a steady performance. The Bulls
have their best opportunity to get back into the MAC conversation here.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 30, Ohio 23