Each week the voice of UB Football, Paul Peck, will preview Buffalo's upcoming game in his "Bull Session." The play-by-play veteran breaks down this week's opponent, Northern Illinois.
Buffalo vs. Northern Illinois
Let's all thank the MAC schedule makers for allowing us to see the 2 defending division champions in back-to-back weeks. It's good for comparison purposes…but don't fear Bulls fans, in the last 3 games against these conference powers, UB has beaten Ohio once, lost to them by seven, and lost to Northern Illinois by one point. It's a good sign that these Bulls rise to the occasion.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Offense
As much as we all want to see Branden Oliver return, I know I feel a lot better if he isn't back this week. That's because Devin Campbell was great against Ohio. His 160 yards rushing makes him just the second true freshman back to top 100 yards. The other was Jeffvon Gill in 2009….Alex Zordich became the first Bulls Division I-A quarterback to top the century mark. He's just 1 yard shy of Chazz Anderson'single season quarterback rushing mark…What a game for TE/RB/QB Alex Dennison. Although he had no catches, he ran 4 times for 1 TD and 3 first downs, along with throwing the reverse option TD pass to Alex Neutz…When Branden Oliver runs the Wildcat offense, our radio crew calls it the "BoCat"…so when Dennison did it, we figured we needed a similar nickname. Thanks to suggestions from Super Bulls Fans Ron Balter and Charlie Timmons, we're going with the "AlleyCat"….The Northern Illinois defense is led by safety and leading tackle Jimmie Ward, and a great group of defensive ends. Sean Progar, Alan Baxter and Joe Windsor have combined for 10 sacks….The Bulls now have 11 touchdown drives of 75 yards or more…They have run for over 300 yards in three of their last seven games….that prompted Jeff Quinn to say the offensive line's performance against the Bobcats was the most physical he's seen that unit play in his three years…Quinn believes "the offense goes as the offensive line goes"...the line as a group was honored as UB's Student Athletes of the Week.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Defense
The Bulls 18 sacks lead the MAC, and rank 4th in the NCAA….9 different players have gotten to the quarterback…with 9 tackles against Ohio, Lee Skinner has taken the team lead back from Whitney Sherry…Steve Means had a dominant series in the 4th quarter. He drew back-to-back holding calls on the same Bobcats offensive lineman…even though he did not have one against the Bobcats, Khalil Mack still leads the nation in tackles for loss…NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch has more than filled the shoes of Chandler Harnish. Lynch has four straight games of over 100 yards rushing, and totaled a career-high 207 last week against Ball State….Lynch will look very familiar to Jeff Quinn. The Bulls boss recruited Lynch when Quinn was at Cincinnati, before coming to Buffalo. "I loved him" was Jeff's expert recruiting report…Lynch can also throw. He tossed for 342 yards against Army…the Huskies have the MAC's number one rushing offense. The Bulls are number two.
Bullseye on: The Red Zone
The fun will come inside the 20 yard line. That area of the field could decide the game. The Bulls are 13-13 in the red zone, one of just three teams in the country that are perfect. Alabama and Oklahoma State are the others….The Northern Illinois defense is very good in red zone defense. They are limiting teams to just 65% scoring, a total that ranks 10th in the NCAA.
Please join me, color analyst Jim Kubiak, sideline reporter Nick Mendola and host Scott Wilson for the broadcast on the Bulls Football Network. Our pregame show starts at 2:30pm.