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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 27, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UB Stadium (29,013) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: Time-Warner Cable. Home Record: Toledo 4-0, Buffalo 1-2. Away Record: Toledo 3-1, Buffalo 0-4. Neutral Record: Toledo 0-0, Buffalo 0-0. Conference Record: Toledo 4-0, Buffalo 0-3. Series Record: Toledo leads, 5-3.
GAME NOTES: The Toledo Rockets aim for their eighth win in a row when they square off with the Buffalo Bulls in a Mid-American Conference tilt on Saturday.
Toledo has been one of the most impressive teams in the league this season under its new head coach Matt Campbell. The Rockets have won seven in a row after a tough overtime loss at Arizona in their season opener. Toledo managed to upset the then No.21 Cincinnati Bearcats, 29-23, at the Glass Bowl last week as Jordan Haden made a game-clinching interception with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
Last week's break from league play brought the same results for Buffalo, as the Bulls were defeated 20-6 by Pittsburgh in a non-conference affair for their fifth-straight loss. The Bulls' lone win this season came at home against Morgan State of the FCS. However, Buffalo's 1-6 overall and 0-3 league marks are slightly misleading due to the quality of competition thus far. The Bulls' losses came to three schools from BCS conferences (Georgia, Connecticut, Pitt) and three of the four MAC programs with perfect league records (Kent State, Ohio University, Northern Illinois). Buffalo has been outscored 65-9 in its past two games.
Toledo has an impressive offensive attack that has shown the ability to light up the scoreboard. The Rockets are third in the conference in both scoring (35.5 ppg) and total offense (460.0 ypg). Those numbers fell slightly after the Rockets amassed a season-low 355 yards of total offense in the win over Cincinnati last weekend.
David Fluellen is unstoppable as of late. The junior running back tallied 161 yards on 27 carries against Cincy to eclipse the century mark for the fourth straight game. Fluellen has piled up 953 yards and nine touchdowns on 161 carries this season.
The Rockets' aerial attack features two of the MAC's most productive wideouts in Bernard Reedy and Alonzo Russell. Reedy leads the team with 738 yards, 57 receptions, and five touchdown catches. Two weeks ago against Eastern Michigan, Reedy had a breakout performance with season-highs of 11 receptions and 237 yards.
Terrance Owens showed why he is considered a reliable field general in last week's win over Cincinnati. Although he was held to a season-low 126 yards on 13-of-24 passing, Owen managed to pick up 50 yards on the ground and avoided making any turnovers. The junior quarterback has completed 64.7 percent (161- of-249) of his passes, for 2,026 yards, 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Although Toledo's defense has not been consistent this season, it stepped up big time last week intercepting two passes, including Haden's game-clinching pick, to power the upset. The Rockets are only 10th in the MAC in total defense (477.9 ypg) and sixth in points allowed (27.5 ppg).
The Rockets are led by the nation's leading tackler, Dan Molls, who has already recorded 102 total stops. Jermaine Robinson has made some spectacular plays and leads the MAC with four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
Buffalo lacks the offensive firepower that the visitors clearly possess. The Bulls' point production issues can partially be attributed to their inability to hang onto the ball. Buffalo has the worst turnover margin in the MAC (-11) this season. The team is averaging 388 yards of total offense and only 20.4 points per contest.
Under center for UB, Alex Zordich has just one more touchdown pass (eight) than interceptions on the season after going 23-of-41 for 165 yards with a pick in last week's loss to Pitt. Zordich has room for improvement when it comes to his passing accuracy as he is connecting on only 52.5 percent of his attempts this season. He has 1,136 yards through the air and also a team-high 434 rushing yards.
Alex Neutz is clearly Zordich's favorite target when he drops back in the pocket. Neutz has 32 receptions for 512 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Devon Hughes is second to Neutz in each of those categories with 22 catches, 221 yards, and one touchdown.
Buffalo has the sixth-best rushing attack in the MAC (193.4 ypg), but it would be much more potent if its star, junior tailback Branden Oliver (2,119 career rushing yards), had not suffered an injury earlier this season.
Freshman running back Devin Campbell has carried the load with Oliver sidelined. The rookie halfback gained 104 yards on 19 carries last week against Pitt for his second game with 100 or more rushing yards in his last three outings.
Buffalo's defense is limiting opponents to 380.3 yards per game, which is the fourth lowest average in the MAC. However, the Bulls are surrendering 32.7 ppg., which ranked 95th among the 120 teams in the FBS.
Khalil Mack has been a force up front for Buffalo thus far with 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, which lead the team and rank first and fourth in the conference, respectively. Mack has also tallied a team-leading 52 total tackles. Colby Way (four sacks) has also been impressive in the pass rush.
The Rockets will need to stay focused after last week's emotional and hard- fought victory. Buffalo is one of the worst teams in the FBS in giveaway-to- takeaway ratio. It will need to address that issue because the Rockets are likely to turn miscues into game altering points.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 34, Buffalo 20
10/24 10:31:44 ET
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