“They hit their defensive stride last week,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said. “Five turnovers are huge. They’re always aggressive – attacking, going north and south.”
Buffalo’s defense is allowing opponents averages of 321.8 total offense yards and 83.3 rushing yards per game. Both are lowest in the MAC. The Bulls rank second with an average of 28.0 points allowed per game.
»RELATED: MAC Standings
Miami’s offense is generating averages of 20.0 points per game, ninth in the 12-team MAC, and 95.8 yards per game, 10th in the conference. As if that isn’t a strong-enough suggestion that the RedHawks might have difficulty running the ball, they still might be missing three offensive linemen who were projected to be regulars in fifth-year senior right tackle Matt Skibinski, fourth-year junior left tackle Tommy Doyle and third-year sophomore left guard Pete Nank.
The Bulls offense is led by the MAC’s second-best rushing attack. Sophomore Jaret Patterson ranks third in the conference with an average of 90.8 rushing yards per game. Classmate Kevin Marks is right behind with an average of 79.8 rushing yards per game. Ground-game production takes some pressure off the shoulders of redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Myers, who has thrown for five touchdowns.
Buffalo was picked to finish third in the East behind projected-champion Ohio and second-place Miami. After playing the Bulls, the RedHawks get a week off before playing at Western Michigan and Oct. 12 and facing defending West-champion Northern Illinois on Oct. 19 in Oxford.
Martin described this year’s Buffalo team as “very similar” to previous editions. Miami leads the overall series, 14-7, but the Bulls have won five of the last seven games.
“We play each other every year,” he said. “We know each other pretty well.”
Certain to come up around the Miami program this week is last year’s game, won 51-42 by the Bulls at Buffalo. The RedHawks led, 21-14, early in the second quarter before Buffalo scored three unanswered touchdowns to open up a 35-21 lead. Miami fought back to forge a 42-42 tie going into the fourth quarter, but the Bulls scored the last 10 points of a game that lasted almost four hours and featured a combined 958 yards of total offense.
“If we win, we finish 7-1 and they’re 6-2,” Martin said. “We lost, so they were 7-1 and we were 6-2. We have to keep reminding them that, ‘That team kept you from getting where you want to go.’”
Buffalo at Miami, Noon, ESPNU, 980, 1450