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at Ball State 28 ... Buffalo 25

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 17, 2011


Week 3 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Buffalo at Ball State


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 3 - Buffalo at Ball State

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Sept. 17 at Ball State 28 ... Buffalo 25
CFN Analysis: COMING

(AP) MUNCIE, Ind. -- Keith Wenning threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead with 29 seconds remaining to lead Ball State to a 28-25 victory against Buffalo on Saturday night.

The score culminated an 18-play, 75-yard drive for the Cardinals (2-1, 1-0 MAC) after Buffalo (1-2, 0-1) took the lead.

Wenning completed 24 of 36 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Jahwan Edwards ran for 112 yards and two TDs on 22 carries for Ball State.

Branden Oliver rushed 27 times for 118 yards and a touchdown for the Bulls. Buffalo trailed 21-7 but erased that deficit with the help of quarterback Chazz Anderson, who ran and passed for scores in the fourth quarter.

Anderson's 1-yard run ended a 14-play, 86-yard march that gave the Bulls a 25-21 cushion with 6:28 remaining.

Buffalo (1-1) at Ball State (1-1) Sep. 17, 7:00,

Here’s The Deal … Believe it or not, this is an early quirky conference game for the MAC before both go back to non-conference play against stiffer competition. Both teams will be looking to post a winning record in the conference as well as the overall slate before getting beat up by the likes of Tennessee (Buffalo) and Oklahoma (Ball State). The Bulls are coming off their first win in convincing fashion versus Stony Brook, while Ball State followed up its big win against Indiana with a reality check at the hands of South Florida, getting creamed 37-7. Despite both being a MAC team, the two have only squared off a total of eight times, with Ball State having the upper hand decisively. In fact, the only meeting that Bulls have won was the 2008 MAC Championship game meaning they will be looking to make a mark. Both teams are looking to blaze a new path from the miserable campaigns of last year, and winning this one could mean the difference between a respectable year versus another disaster of a season.

Why Buffalo Might Win: It’s not like Ball State is expected to do too many special things this year, especially on the offensive side of the ball. After looking somewhat respectable against a poor Indiana defense, the Cardinals set offense back about forty years against a strong South Florida team. The problem: Ball State has an almost non-existent passing game, and not enough of a ground game to make up for it. The Cardinals rank 100th in passing, 74th in rushing, and 104th in scoring so far in 2011.

That’s good news for Buffalo. Though the scoreboard operator won’t miss too much by taking a restroom break when Buffalo has the ball, it at least has a pulse. They only managed to score 16 points against a pretty solid Pittsburgh defense, but hidden in the overall tally is that the Bulls were able to rack up 403 yards of total offense, most of it through the air. That just so happens to play right into the weakness of a Ball State defense that is giving up over 300 yards of frequent flier miles a game. Buffalo should be able to move the ball pretty consistently and put some points on the board. Enough that It should give them a legitimate shot in this one.

Why Ball State Might Win: It’s Buffalo, and Ball State has owned them to the tune of a 8-1 all-time record. Yes, it’s a different year, and past performance does not always indicate future gains, but it does provide a good benchmark for what type of programs both are. Ball State has had more than one day in the conference sun, while Buffalo can boast of only a shimmering flash of lightning.

More important than the pedigree and history, Ball State has a signature win against a BCS school in Indiana. The Hoosiers are not winning any beauty contests this year, but the fact that the Cardinals can play with a Big Ten team shows the level of athlete that is strapping up the pads for them. The Bulls, on the other hand, got demolished at the hands of their only showing against upper level talent because the athleticism simply isn’t the same as what many consider to be a middle of the pack Big East team in Pittsburgh. Ball State moved the ball some against Indiana, and it will be able to have more success against Buffalo than the two previous contests simply because the difference in competition and skill-level. Look for the ugly offensive stats to swing more to the positive after this one.

What To Watch Out For: Ball State is going to continue to run the ball, and when it does, you’ll get a look at two dynamic play-makers at linebacker for Buffalo. The 6-3, 248-pound sophomore Khalil Mack and 6-5, 245-pound junior Jaleel Verser are two of the best linebackers that the MAC has to offer. They’ll get plenty of opportunity to showcase their speed and toughness against the Ball State running attack. The Cardinals will eat up some yards on the ground, but these two outside linebackers will make it tough sledding for any kind of consistent big play threat.

For Ball State, senior FS Sean Baker will again be in the spotlight. With the game plan no doubt predicated on an aerial type of attack from the Bulls, it’s going to be up to the heart and soul of the Ball State defense to act as the enforcing type of safety valve that he has been known for. Buffalo has some decent receivers, and there will be ample opportunity for the 6-1, 204 pounder out of Canfield, Ohio to make a few big hits and big plays to impact the outcome of this one. Look for his presence to be felt early and often.

What Will Happen:
These appear to be two pretty evenly matched teams on paper, and it should be a case of polar opposites when each has the ball. Buffalo will be looking to make its hay through the air, and Ball State will grind away with the running game and ball control offense. Look for this one to be tight throughout simply because each team will be one dimensional and have a hard time keeping any kind of consistent threat going offensively. While there’s a good chance that this one is decided by a big play or two, when all is said and done, the physicality of the Ball State Cardinals will wear down the Bulls just enough on their home turf to pull out a much needed win and boost of confidence.

CFN Prediction: Ball State 27 … Buffalo 20
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Ball State -4.5  O/U: 52

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