Kent State (1-1) at Buffalo (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UB Stadium (29,013) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Kent State 1-0, Buffalo 1-0. Away Record: Kent State 0-1, Buffalo 0-1. Neutral Record: Kent State 0-0, Buffalo 0-0. Conference Record: Kent State 0-0, Buffalo 0-0. Series Record: Series tied, 9-9.
GAME NOTES: A pair of East Division rivals kickoff their Mid-American Conference seasons this Wednesday when the Kent State Golden Flashes head to upstate New York to take on the Buffalo Bulls at UB Stadium.
Second-year coach Darrell Hazell is aiming to lead Kent State to its first MAC title in 40 years after a 4-4 finish in league play last season. Kent State had a week off after falling, 47-14, to Kentucky in week two. Despite the loss, the Golden Flashes showed improvement offensively by surpassing 400 yards of total offense and controlling possession for 35 minutes, feats they only reached once last season. The Golden Flashes have dropped seven of their last eight road games dating back to 2010.
The Bulls are coming off a 56-34 victory over the Morgan State Bears of the FCS. Buffalo is only 4-9 in MAC openers since joining the league in 1999. Coach Jeff Quinn led the team to a 3-9 overall record and a 2-6 mark in league action in 2011. Buffalo, which lost to Georgia in Athens in its season opener, comes into the contest leading the MAC in scoring with an average of 39.5 points per game. However, the Bulls rank second to last in the league with the same number of points allowed per contest.
The all-time series between these teams is tied up, 9-9. Buffalo has won four of the last five meetings. This is the first matchup between these conference rivals since Nov. 27, 2009.
KSU's offense has outrushed its opponents by 28 yards this season, but its passing attack has generated 207 yards and four touchdowns less than its opposition.
Spencer Keith passed for 1,682 yards, 11 touchdowns, and eight interceptions last season as a junior. Keith was quiet in the opening win versus Towson, but he completed 28-of-43 passes for 227 yards without turning the ball over versus Kentucky. Despite being a four-year starter, Keith has yet to play Buffalo in his career as he was sidelined when KSU squared off with the Bulls in the finale of his freshman season. Keith has not thrown an interception in his last seven starts.
Josh Boyle has been the main target in the passing game for KSU. Boyle has 159 yards and the only receiving touchdown on nine receptions through two games.
Dri Archer and Trayion Durham have been solid rushers for the Golden Flashes so far. Archer has scored four touchdowns in his first five quarters of play, including a 47-yard scamper for a score at Kentucky. Durham finished with 87 yards and a score on 16 carries versus the Wildcats.
KSU's defense returned nine starters and appeared to be in sync at the start of the season as it held Towson to 316 yards of total offense. However, Kentucky was much more successful as it gained 539 yards, including 185 on the ground.
Junior safety Luke Wollet is the leader of the defense with 22 tackles and an interception. Roosevelt Nix is tied for the MAC's lead with four total tackles for loss.
Wollet will lead the charge as KSU tries to slow down the red-hot signal caller Alex Zordich. Buffalo's junior quarterback, who is the son of the former NFL safety Mike Zordich, has completed 30-of-45 passes for 385 yards and five touchdowns with just one interception through two games.
Zordich has a great deal of pressure taken off of him by halfback Branden Oliver, who set the school's FBS rushing record with 238 yards versus Morgan State. He broke his own record of 235 yards he set last season and has now reached the century mark in seven of his last nine games. Oliver ranks second in the nation with an average of 174.5 rushing yards per game.
Alex Neutz is also coming off a career performance versus Morgan State. The junior wideout had a career-best 154 yards and tied a school record with four TD catches.
The Bulls allowed 45 points in week one to Georgia before surrendering 34 to Morgan State in their second appearance of 2012. UB is aggressive and leads the MAC with 4.5 sacks per game.
Buffalo could be a legitimate MAC contender if its defensive unit can match its offense's output. Kent State will need Keith to be more than a game manager if it is going to pull out its first road victory of the season. Oliver should continue his early season success against the Golden Flashes' suspect defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 34, Kent State 28
09/19 11:32:49 ET