The Buffalo Game Preview

The Baylor Bears hit the road to New York to take on Buffalo, the bulls and their fun blackout game Friday night.

The Baylor Bears are going to New York City! Well, kind of. They are going to Buffalo. Buffalo is not quite New York City. In fact, it kind of isn’t New York. It is Eastern Canada, literally right on the border and most famous for the Niagara Falls that is just north. They are closer to Pittsburg than New York, both distance and culturally. This is a blue-collar town.

Art Briles is a blue collar guy (really more of a no-collar guy with his performance long-sleeve shirts, but that is beside the point) and will try and get his Bears ready for their first road trip of 2014. This game should at least have an exciting environment, with UB Stadium and the Buffalo campus making its first ever appearance on ESPN in front of a national Friday night TV audience. Baylor fans should remember the last time they went on the road to a smaller conference school on a Friday night. I doubt the Bears will run into a 2-QB offense much Friday night though.

MEDIA INFORMATION
Matchup 8/7 BAYLOR (2-0) vs. NR/NR BUFFALO (1-1)
Date Sept. 12, 2014 | 7:00 p.m. CT
Location Buffalo, N.Y. | UB Stadium (29,013)
TV ESPN
Radio ESPN Central Texas | Sirius 91 | XM 91
Online Audio Listen Online
Live Stats Gametracker
Gameday Info Gameday Central
Ticket Info Tickets
Game Notes Baylor Notes |Buffalo Notes
Twitter @BUFootball

Fun Stats of the Game

-The Buffalo Bulls are 1-9 in games against Top-25 teams. The Bears are the highest ranked team to come to UB Stadium. The only win for the Bulls against a Top-25 team was over 14th ranked Ball State in the MAC Championship game. They are 0-7 against Power-5 conference schools.

-The Bears are 3-0 in the series with Buffalo, including 1-0 on the road. The last game in the series was the Bears 70-13 win last year in Waco, TX. The Bears won their only game at UB Stadium 34-21 back in 2007

-The Bears offensive line has not allowed a sack so far this season

-The Bears are 5-0 against MAC members

-Baylor is 17-2 in its last 19 games

-Buffalo is coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history, finishing 8-5 and advancing to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. This was their 2nd ever bowl game.

-Buffalo has won its past 8 games at home, with quarterback Joe Licata starting all 8 of those games

Key Matchups

-Baylor Defensive Line versus Buffalo Offensive Line

The Bears defensive front has been excellent this year. They tied a program record in sacks in the opener against SMU, before taking it easy on the overmatched Demons of Northwestern State. Against Buffalo, they will be facing by far the best passing attack they have seen this year. Joe Licata is a talented quarterback with a lot of experience. He throws a good ball and has some capable targets on the outside, led by Ron Willoughbly. The Bears saw Licata last year, but he developed quite a bit throughout the 2013 season and is a much better player.

The Bears will face an experienced offensive line, with all 5-starters returning from last year’s lineup. They have good size as well, with all over 300 pounds and are led by guard Andre Davis, who is a Preseason All-MAC pick and left tackle Jake Silas who flipped over from right tackle during the offseason. The Bulls will start the same group of 5 for the third time this year, and 9th game in a row. This is the most talented and most experienced line the Bears will have seen in 2014, so this should be a nice step up in difficulty before conference season starts.

-Baylor Wide Receivers versus Buffalo Secondary

With four senior starting, including two multiple year starters for Buffalo, the Bulls have a distinct advantage over the much younger Baylor Bears in terms of experience. The bears are starting two true freshmen, a sophomore and a junior. They have some sophomores, redshirt freshman and a pair of freshmen looking to hold onto their redshirt years behind them. This is a true battle of experience versus youth.

Analytical Breakdown

FEI Rank

23

89

F/+ Rank

11

93

S&P+ Rank

7

105

GE Rank

7

86

Sagarin

20

118

Massey

13

126

RealTime RPI

9

82

Team Rankings Rank

24

113

Average

14.25

101.5

The Bears are heavy favorites in this game, and for good reason. They are a Top-10 team in the polls, and all over the place this early in the year in the analytical rankings. Still though, this is one of the best 25 teams in the country according to everyone. The Bulls are not. They are pretty much worse than SMU at least that was the perception when the season began. The Mustangs are lower than the Bulls now, but this is not a good team right now. They lost to Army and barely beat an FCS team. Their best player in program history is now an Oakland Raider, they lost their best WR and RB off of a solid team last year; a solid team that still got destroyed by 50+ points by the Bears last year.

Keys to the Game

1. Expect the Unexpected

Look, the Bears are favored by roughly 35 points on the road in this one. They are a Top-10 ranked team playing against an opponent that got blown out by Army, with only a 3-touchdown 4th quarter making it look better than it actually was. They are on the road, at a place and in front of a crowd that has never seen a Power-5 conference play on their field, especially one ranked as high as the Bears. Expect Buffalo to throw everything out at first, simply because they have nothing to lose. Remember ULM and the crazy 2-QB offense? That might be the type of things we could see Friday night. On-sides kicks at any point of the game (if the Bulls can score), weird formations, fake punts? Yes to all of the above. The bears have to be prepared to take Buffalo’s best punch, which could be a flying scissor kick off of a 10-foot diving platform for all we know. Might as well go big and hope the one in a million odds hit in your favor.

2. Make Buffalo one-dimensional

The Bulls have been a pretty balanced offense so far in 2014. They skew much more to the passing side of the chart (mostly because of the furious comeback attempt in the 2nd half against Army), but they have a capable running attack and maybe a good passing attack. This will be the best offense the Bears have seen in 2014 with Anthone Taylor running behind an experienced line, and Joe Licata finding one of his 11 receivers to already catch a ball from him. For comparison, the Bears have 10 receivers with receptions. This is the first test of a team that might be able to test the run and pass defense of the Bears.

3. Get Petty some good stats and onto the bench

The health of senior quarterback Bryce Petty is really the second more important result of this game, following a Baylor victory of course. Simply put, the Bears need to get off to a quick start, get Petty some good reps (and hopefully good stats) and back to the bench sometime in the 2nd half for more rest. Petty was uncharacteristically off against SMU, missing several wide open throws that he would normally make with ease. He needs to get into a good rhythm this week, as he will have another long break before the next game.

This is a really bad defense, at least through two games. They are 90th in total defense, 110th in scoring defense, and 120th in passing efficiency. They let an FCS team pass for over 300 yards. They give up over 400 yards per game, and 37 points per game. This is a defense that should be quite exploitable. Get Petty in, get him into good form, and then get him out of the game.

Predictions

Massey Ratings – Bears win 48-24

RealTime RPI – Bears win 45-17

TeamRankings.com – Bears win 52-18

Staff Predictions COMING SOON!


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