Buffalo Presents Somewhat of a Challenge

After Marshall's 37-15 victory over the Northern Illinois Huskies, there's one thing that's easy to see: the winds, they are a-changing.

The winds of DeKalb, Illinois blew the Herd offense into a running mode, while the winds of change exhibited a Herd defense that did not look overwhelmed by suspensions, but aggressive and tenacious. Now the winds of predestination will carry the Marshall Thundering Herd into Buffalo, New York for their October 13th showdown with the Bulls.

Nearly seven hours drive from the remnants of the World Trade Center Towers in New York City, Marshall (3-1, 1-0 MAC E) will journey to the home of the Buffalo Bulls (1-4, 0-2 MAC E), who continue to struggle since their entrance to I-A and the Mid-American Conference. After a winless inagural season, Buffalo scored two victories in MAC play last year and have their first victory this year under new coach Jim Hofher against I-A Independent UConn.

The Bulls have shown great strides of improvement the last two years, winning two games while losing 16-17 to Miami-Ohio in 2000. Buffalo also played a good half against Marshall in Huntington last year, trailing by only three points at halftime but losing 47-14 in the end.

That brings us to this year's game at UB Stadium, a MAC East Game that Marshall needs to keep pace with division leader Akron. Let's look at the matchup....

Record:3-1 (1-0 MAC E)
Points Scored: 137
Points Allowed: 115
Last Week :W vs. N. Illinois 37-15
Rush Off.: 548
Pass Off.: 1116
Rush Def.: 572
Pass Def.: 992
Penalties: 38-307 yds.
Turnover Margin +3
Key Player(s): QB Byron Leftwich, WR Darius Watts, DB Yancey Satterwhite, LB Max Yates

Record:1-4 (0-2 MAC E)
Points Scored: 74
Points Allowed: 133
Last Week :L @ Miami, 31-14
Rush Off.: 353
Pass Off.: 967
Rush Def.: 908
Pass Def.: 747
Penalties: 36-229 yds.
Turnover Margin -3
Key Player(s) QB Joe Freedy, RB Marquis
Dwarte, DB Craig Rohfls

Keys to winning: Buffalo
- Buffalo goes into this game as the MAC's top team in pass defense (149 yards per game) and will be hard-pressed against Marshall's high-powered offense. Turnovers will play a huge roll in this game, but more importantly getting to Marshall QB Byron Leftwich will be important to scoring a huge upset for the Bulls. Offensively, the Bulls' offensive line will have to protect QB Joe Freedy against Marshall's pass rush. An occasional trick play to keep the Herd off balance may also help.

Keys to winning: Marshall
- The Herd will have to get the running game going, which doesn't look to be a problem considering the ground production by running backs Franklin Wallace and Trod Buggs last week. Wallace had another 100+ yard game against Northern Illinois as the starter and Buggs averaged over 5 yards per carry as the second man in the rotation. Marshall won its first game in memory where the team actually ran the ball (42 carries) more times than it threw (26 attempts). If that production continues, Byron Leftwich should be able to pass the ball downfield for big gains. The Herd defense needs to get in the backfield and disrupt the Buffalo offense. Marshall must also be solid on special teams, especially in the place-kicking game to keep the Bulls away from the end zone.

Game Outlook:
- The Marshall coaches and players must remember last year's 17-14 lead heading into halftime in a game they were expected to dominate. The team can not afford a mental letdown at a time where the team as a whole is beginning to gel and must play this game to the top of their ability. Expect the Herd to come out very strong and try to put the game away early. Marshall will be on alert in the defensive secondary and will have to keep the Bulls from gaining momentum. Buffalo is outmatched, but will be inspired to play well against the defending MAC champs.

The prediction: Marshall 57 - Buffalo 13


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