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, Bowling Green.
Buffalo vs. Bowling Green
Defense. It's seen in the MAC about as much as a balanced conference schedule. But we'll see it Friday, as the Falcons and the Bulls are the two best teams at stopping their opponents. Bowling Green leads in total defense, rushing defense, passing defense, scoring defense and 3rd down defense. The Bulls lead in sacks, and sit second in total defense and passing defense. BG has allowed 14 points or less in five of their last six games. Lou Tepper's squad has given up 25 points or less in their last five games. Each team has a star player on defense: Falcons defensive tackle Chris Jones and Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack. So, for a game that's being played in a soccer stadium, the score may be nil-nil for a while.
Bullseye on: Buffalo Offense
Think about this. When spring football started, Rashad Jean was the Bulls 7th string running back. He wasn't even the starting fullback. So what the former walk-on and converted defensive lineman did against UMass is a tribute to him, and the Bulls offensive line. Having never carried the ball before, Jean ran 17 times for 73 yards. They were tough, hard-running yards and they were a big key in the win…Branden Oliver and Devin Campbell are gametime decisions for Friday, and while I'll miss seeing Jean pounding away, their possible return will help against a defense that's allowing just 124 yards per game. The Falcons did give up 334 on the ground last week to Kent State, but the amazing Dri Archer's 79 and 74 yard runs had a lot to do with that…Thanks to some number-crunching by the Bulls media relations department, we have this to ponder. Oliver has played in 19 of UB's 44 quarters, having missed five full games and most of two others. In those quarters, he's averaged 42 yards rushing. Projected to a full season, that's 2,016 yards. Wow!...Joe Licata continues to improve greatly in each start. His confidence is increasing, huge for a QB. That throwback pass to Alex Neutz in the end zone for the final touchdown was a throw only a calm, controlled, confident quarterback would even think about making. Licata is the first Bulls QB since Marty Barrett in 1981 to win his first three starts…Neutz is just 77 yards from being the third Bull to top 1,000 yards receiving in a season. Drew Haddad and Naaman Roosevelt are the others…Fred Lee makes a real difference in the Buffalo passing game. We talk about the injured runners, but Lee's absence earlier really hurt the attack…The Falcons' Jones may be the best defender the Bulls see all season. He is active and disruptive at defensive tackle. His 11.5 sacks rank 4th in the nation, and first in the MAC. He has 17 tackles for loss, trailing only Mack in the MAC…The Falcons play a 4-2-5 defense, and rover back Gabe Martin is a key. He leads the team in tackles, while adding 5 pass breakups, 4 QB hurries and 4.5 sacks….But if this game comes down to blocking great players, I like the Bulls offensive line to rise to the challenge. After all, on Black Friday, it's all about the "Sales."
Bullseye on: Buffalo Defense
For the first time since the Morgan State game, the Bulls pass rushers could tee off and not worry about stopping the run. You saw how Mack, Means, Way, Moseley and the guys responded to that. Their 8 sacks give the Bulls 34 on the year, a new Divison I-A record…Four players (Mack, Means, Way, Skinner) have five or more…During the three game winning streak, the Bulls defenders have 15 sacks…The Falcons have played the same offensive line combination all year, and they've given up just 13 sacks…That line has also paved the way for running back Anthon Samuel to total 970 yards rushing. He did not play against the Bulls last year, but he is BG's biggest offensive weapon…Because their defense has been so good, the Bowling Green offense has managed games more. They rely on Samuel's runs. Quarterback Matt Schilz, after throwing 28 touchdowns last year, has just 13 in 2012…Receiver Chris Gallon had a breakout game last week against Kent State. He grabbed 10 catches for 213 yards, including 81 and 72 yard touchdowns…I can't help but think last week won't be the last time Steve Means plays in an NFL stadium. He was once again dominant, and now has 28 tackles and 4 sacks in his last three games…Way said the defensive resurgence came after the Northern Illinois loss, when the players decided to make a mental change and dedicate themselves to sending our seniors like Means, Moseley, Isaac Baugh and Wyatt Cahill in the right way. That, and a better understanding of Tepper's unusual and complicated scheme are beginning to show….When asked how the Bulls will handle Bowling Green's great defense, Jeff Quinn responded "we see it every day" in our own defense.
Bullseye on: Columbus, OH
This Ohio city is two hours from Bowling Green's campus, and it won't really be a home game for the Falcons. The game is being played in the Columbus Crew Stadium, which was built for the MLS soccer team and hosts high school football games. It's an experiment by the school to reach out to their big alumni base in Columbus. Maybe they'll also be some bleed over from Ohio State-Michigan fans in town for Saturday's big game. Either way, there's no real home field advantage for the Falcons. That, combined with their tough loss to Kent State and a bowl bid likely locked up, means head coach and WNY native Dave Clawson will have some motivating to do. For Quinn, that won't be a problem as the Bulls look to end on a four game winning streak.
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 1:00pm.