The Buffalo Bulls (5-5, 3-3) will take a trip westward as they face the Akron Zips (5-5, 3-3) in a Mid-American Conference matchup Saturday afternoon. Buffalo has won five of the last six meetings, including a 55-24 whipping as a 3.5 point home underdog on November 11, 2014 in the most recent matchup.
Buffalo had their three game win streak snapped with a 41-30 loss to Northern Illinois at home last Wednesday. Akron won their second in a row with a 37-28 win on the road Saturday over Miami (OH) to get back to the .500 mark. The kickoff from InfoCision Stadium in Akron, Ohio is scheduled for 3:30 pm ET and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. Akron is currently a 4 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 44.5 points.
Buffalo tried to claw their way back against Northern Illinois after trailing 28-3 at the half; they drew within 38-30 but couldn’t come all the way back. The Bulls were outgained 524-432, lost the first down battle 24-23 and the time of possession battle 31:52 to 28:08 in the contest. Buffalo was hurt by turning the ball over three times while forcing a pair of turnovers by Northern Illinois. The Bulls did cash in for a defensive score as Cameron Lewis picked off a pass and ran it back 68 yards for a score but it wasn’t enough.
The Bulls are averaging 244.5 yards (44th in the nation) per game through the air and 135.3 yards (106th in the nation) in rushing offense. Buffalo averages 27.3 points per game, which is tied for 74th in the nation and is currently sitting tied for 57th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 25.8 points per game. Senior Joe Licata runs the offense for the Bulls and he’s been pretty good as he’s completed 229 of 359 throws for 2,420 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Anthone Taylor is the lead back in the ground game with 148 carries for 646 yards plus two scores while Jordan Johnson adds 143 carries for a team high 701 yards and nine touchdowns. Taylor missed the win over Ohio and played sparingly against Miami (OH); Johnson’s solid play has given him time to recover a bit. Ron Willoughby is the team’s second leading receiver with 46 receptions for 654 yards and six scores; Matt Weiser, an athletic tight end, has a team leading 53 grabs for 514 yards and two scores while Collin Lisa contributes 29 catches for 318 yards plus a pair of touchdowns and Marcus McGill is good for 40 grabs for 423 yards and two scores. Adam Mitcheson has booted 26 of 31 extra points and 11 of 17 field goal attempts this season with a long of 46 yards.
Akron has gotten back to the .500 mark after winning back to back games, including their win over an in-state rival Saturday. The Zips ran to a 27-7 halftime lead and held off a spirited second half rally by the RedHawks. Akron outgained Miami (OH) 414-384, finished with 20 first downs while allowing 18 and won the time of possession battle 31:10 to 28:50 in the game. In addition, the Zips forced four turnovers while committing only two; two Akron touchdown drives started inside the RedHawks 20 yard line while they did allow an interception return for a score.
The Zips have offensive issues as they average 192.8 yards per game (101st in the nation) through the air and 158.8 yards (85th in the nation) per contest on the ground. Akron is putting up 22.6 points per game (tied for 106th in the nation in scoring offense) on the scoreboard while they are 47th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 23.7 points a game. Three quarterbacks have seen action for the Zips and they’ve been dreadful: they’ve completed 48.5 percent of their passes for 1,928 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while averaging 6.63 yards per pass attempt. Thomas Woodson has seen the majority of the snaps; he’s 120 of 229 for 1,636 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while ranking second on the team with 421 yards plus three scores on the ground. The Zips average 4 yards per carry on the ground with Conor Hundley leading the team with 157 carries for 761 yards and nine scores; Donnell Alexander (66 carries, 293 yards) is the second back in the system. Imani Davis (39 receptions, 475 yards, 2 TD) is the team’s leading receiver while Andrew Pratt (14 grabs, 142 yards, TD) is a secondary option; Tyrell Goodman (12 catches, 104 yards, TD) is one of the other two players with double digit catches while Jerome Lane (26 grabs, team high 595 yards, 6 TD) is a big play threat. Robert Stein has hit 26 of 28 extra points and 10 of 16 field goal attempts with a long of 50 yards.
Buffalo is 4-0 ATS in their last four after an ATS loss, 4-1 ATS in their last five after a straight up loss, 4-1 ATS in their last five after a double digit loss at home and 7-2 ATS in their last nine after allowing at least 450 yards. Akron is 5-12 ATS in their last 17 on fieldturf, 7-24 ATS in their last 31 after allowing at least 280 yards through the air and 2-7 ATS in their last nine at home.
This one should be a good game between two teams that have played pretty well recently. Both teams are looking for that sixth win that will make them bowl eligible. Akron struggled with Miami (OH) after jumping to a big lead while Buffalo put together a big rally that fell short against Northern Illinois. In a back and forth game, take the points and the Bulls as they have had the Zips’ number of late.