Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI
If it’s not David vs. Goliath, it may be close.
Saturday’s Mid-American Conference schedule takes the Buffalo Bulls to Kalamazoo for a battle against Western Michigan. The latter is undefeated and ranked No. 10/21 in the nation.
WMU has long ago clinched bowl eligibility, but still has some work to do to guarantee a place in the Dec. 2 MAC Championship game. Toledo is a game back, and the Rockets vs. Broncos battle wraps up the regular season for both teams.
Beyond that, Western Michigan is . . .
That puts Buffalo in the crosshairs of an explosive offense and talented defense. The Bulls have lost two in a row and six of their last seven. However, the only win during that stretch was a 41-20 upset of Akron. The Zips entered that contest with a 5-3 overall mark and were 3-1 in conference play.
Buffalo amassed 518 yards of total offense to just 306 for Akron in a route that started a three-game slide for UA. If Buffalo is to make run at Western, it will need to show similar results, especially from its run game and defense. It won’t be easy.
Western Michigan tops the league in scoring offense (44.4 ppg), while UB is last in scoring offense and 10th in scoring defense. The Bulls only two offensive touchdowns in last week’s 35-24 loss to Miami came in the last part of the fourth quarter.
Two turnovers were returned for Miami touchdowns – on back to back drives. Avoiding turnovers will be critical to Buffalo’s chances. The Bulls are tied for eighth in turnover margin (-6), while Western Michigan leads the conference at +16, six ahead of the second-place Ohio.
Western is second behind Toledo in total offense (498.2 ypg) and features a very balanced attack with one of the league’s top quarterbacks and several top-notch runners. The Broncos can play bruising football, speed football, and move through the air in a variety of ways. WMU tops the league in rushing (253.7 ypg) and is still fifth in passing (244.5 ypg). Western is second in pass efficiency.
Quarterback Zach Terrell has completed 70.3 percent of his passes this season, good for 2,445 yards and 23 touchdowns with just one interception!
Among his targets is senior Corey Davis. He has 62 receptions for l,029 yards with 14 TDs.
Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan are a dynamic one-two punch, producing 1,741 yards and 17 touchdowns on 311 carries.
Sometimes overlooked is a defense which ranks third in total defense (361.4 ypg).
Several conference opponents have managed to hang with the Broncos before falling. Northern Illinois was within eight points at 38-30 until another WMU touchdown with just over five minutes left in a 45-30 Broncos win. Kent State was locked up with Western at 21-all in the fourth quarter of WMU’s last outing. The Broncos then scored the final 16 points for a 37-21 win.