Buffalo (1-2) at Connecticut (2-2)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rentschler Field (40,000) -- Hartford, Connecticut.
Television: Big East Network, MASN. Home Record: Buffalo 1-1, Connecticut 1-1
Away Record: Buffalo 0-1, Connecticut 1-1. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-0,
Connecticut 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 0-1, Connecticut 0-0. Series
Record: Connecticut leads 15-4.
GAME NOTES: For the third time this season the Connecticut Huskies will take
on a team out of the Mid-American Conference, as the Buffalo Bulls invade
Rentschler Field on Saturday.
Buffalo is coming off a 23-7 loss in its conference opener against Kent State
in a game the Bulls lost several key players including All-MAC running back
Branden Oliver in the first half. The loss dropped the Bulls to 1-2 with
the only win coming against Morgan State of the FCS. Buffalo also began the
2011 campaign at 1-2, while going on to finish 3-9.
In the first four games of the season Connecticut has played two MAC squads
and split the two games. The Huskies routed Massachusetts 37-0 in the season
opener and last week fell 30-24 on the road to Western Michigan. Connecticut
is 18-4 all-time against the conference.
Of Connecticut's 22 previous meetings with MAC competitions 19 have come
against the Bulls. In those 19 contests the Huskies have dominated with a 15-4
record that includes wins in nine of the last 10 games. In last season's
matchup the Huskies prevailed with a 17-3 win in Buffalo.
An extended injury to Oliver could be detrimental to the Buffalo offense, as
the Bulls rely more on the run than the pass. So far this season the Bulls
have rushed for 657 yards, with only 526 through the air, the lowest total in
the MAC, although the Bulls have played only three games.
Oliver has been the lynchpin of the ground attack with 426 yards on the season
for an impressive average of 142.0 yards per game. He is currently fourth in
the MAC in rushing yards, but first in yards per game. The rest of the backs
have not gotten much work this season with Brandon Murie (12 carries, 50
yards) and James Potts (two carries, 54 yards) being the biggest contributors.
The Bulls second-leading rusher is quarterback Alex Zordich who has rushed for
122 yards this season. Zordich has been very hit-or-miss in the passing game
completing just over fifty percent of his passes this season (34-for-67) for
477 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. He has relied heavily on
wideout Alex Neutz, who has 15 receptions, 264 yards and a MAC-leading six
touchdowns. No other receiver has more than six receptions or 84 yards.
Buffalo has not been a tough team to score on this season, surrendering 34.0
points and 418.3 yards per game. The 23-point effort the unit allowed in its
last game was a season low after giving up 45 to nationally ranked Georgia and
34 to Morgan State. Part of the issue is that the Bulls have not been able to
create turnovers with just one takeaway this season.
Against Kent State, the Bulls suffered a 404-281 deficit in total yards
although they did create pressure in the game with five sacks. Despite that
the Bulls could not get off the field with the Golden Flashes having 37:30 in
time of possession.
Three different players have at least 20 tackles for Buffalo this season, led
by Witney Sherry (24). Khalil Mack also has 20 tackles and a team-leading 3.5
Just like Buffalo, Connecticut is a team that relies heavily on the run but in
the loss to Western Michigan the Huskies got 333 yards passing from
quarterback Chandler Whitmer. The junior college transfer completed 28-of-44
passes and also had three touchdowns and an interception.
Also having an impressive game was wide receiver Geremy Davis, who caught nine
passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. The effort accounted for more than half
of Davis' overall production (17 receptions, 236 yards) this season
Lyle McCombs had one of his best games of the season, rushing for 119 yards on
23 carries, while also picking up a pair of receptions for 28 yards out of the
backfield. McCombs is now third in the Big East in rushing (355 yards) after
finishing second in the category in 2011.
Overall as an offense Connecticut has been one of the least productive units
in the Big East. The team is averaging a conference-low 23.0 points per game,
while the squad's 314.8 yards and 15.3 first downs per game are better than
Despite a weak offense, Connecticut has stayed competitive this season because
of its stellar defense. The Huskies lead the league in total defense (213 ypg)
while surrendering only 15.3 points per game. The Huskies excel at getting
into the backfield and disrupting plays with a total of 34 tackles for loss
and 15 sacks.
The trio of Yawin Smallwood, Sio Moore and Trevardo Williams have been the
most impressive players. Smallwood leads the team with 42 tackles, with 9.5
tackles for loss, including four sacks. Williams has a team-high 5.5 sacks on
the season, while Moore has 24 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
A return to Rentschler Field will be a big help for the Huskies, who are 11-4
at home over the last three seasons. The Husky defense is built to get after
the quarterback and get into the backfield, which should play into their
favor, especially if Oliver cannot play for the Bulls.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 30, Buffalo 10
09/26 10:36:03 ET