2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 4 - UConn at Buffalo
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Sept. 24 Connecticut 17 ... at Buffalo 3
CFN Analysis: Is this finally the moment when Connecticut found its quarterback? Johnny McEntee only completed 12-of-21 passes, but he connected on a few big passes rolling for 213 yards and two scores. The running game still isn't anywhere near as good as it needs to be, and it took way too long and too much of an effort to put away a bad Buffalo team, but the team needed a win after two straight close losses. To beat Western Michigan, the offense will have to keep up the pace against a high-powered attack. The UConn pass defense has been terrific and the pass rush has been tremendous. Against WMU, both have to be even better.
The Bulls can't come away empty from any promising trips; the offense just isn't good enough. Chazz Anderson was able to move the offense with his legs as well as his arm, and there were three shots at points that came up empty, misfiring inside the red zone with a tough pick and a missed field goal as part of the problems. The defense has been solid and aggressive, and the offense is moving the ball. The points aren't coming and there aren't enough game-changing plays. If the secondary can stay strong against Tennessee, it won't be an ugly blowout, but all focus has to be to figure out how to start converting drives into points before dealing with Ohio.
(AP) AMHERST, N.Y. -- Johnny McEntee has suddenly earned an edge in Connecticut's three-way quarterback competition after throwing two touchdowns in a 17-3 win over Buffalo on Saturday night.
He's certainly found a favorite target in junior receiver Nick Williams.
A third-year walk-on, McEntee finished 12 of 21 for 213 yards in helping the Huskies (2-2) snap a two-game losing skid.
Williams sealed the victory with a 49-yard touchdown catch with 4:52 left. He finished with two catches for 113 yards, including a 64-yard catch that set up Mark Hinkley's 4-yard touchdown in the final seconds of the first half.
The Huskies defense did the rest in helping UConn extend its win streak over Buffalo to seven games -- a stretch that includes a win in the 2009 International Bowl. Yawin Smallwood had an interception in the end zone as part of a defense that allowed the Bulls to score only 3 points from three trips into the red zone.
Chazz Anderson finished 18 of 39 for 193 yards for Buffalo (1-3), which has lost 10 of its last 11. Marcus Rivers had nine catches for 94 yards.
It was a sloppy, defensive-oriented game between two programs seeking to kickstart their seasons before getting into the thick of conference play.
The game was tied at 3 before UConn finally took control on its final drive of the first half, thanks to McEntee, who's been competing with Scott McCummings and Michael Nebrich for the starting job.
McEntee capped a four-play 83-yard drive by hitting a wide-open Hinkley, who sneaked out of the backfield into the right flats for a 4-yard touchdown with 15 seconds left in the half. It was McEntee's fourth start of the season, and the touchdown was the first of his career.
Williams has finally gotten his shot in playing a role in the offense after the junior led the nation in kickoff returns a year ago. He showed his speed and shiftiness in setting up the Huskies first touchdown in the final minute of the first half.
Catching the ball on a crossing route over the middle, he shook off Buffalo defensive back Isaac Baugh's attempted tackle, and then burst free up the middle for UConn's longest completion of the season.
Williams' touchdown came on a very similar play. This time cutting from the right over the middle, he caught the ball and somehow escaped the grasp of Buffalo's Najja Johnson, who got both arms around him. Williams then cut back to the left and was untouched into the end zone to seal the win with 4:52 remaining.
Buffalo's offense lacked finish. Down 10-3 at the half, Buffalo's Chazz Anderson engineered a 70-yard drive to the Huskies' 5, only to have a third-down pass intercepted in the end zone by Smallwood. In the first quarter, Buffalo's Peter Fardon missed a 30-yard field goal attempt that went wide left. On their next possession, Anderson marched the Bulls to the Huskies 7 only to be undone by a holding penalty. Buffalo settled on Fardon hitting a 28-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
The Huskies also squandered a field goal attempt when Dave Teggart's 49-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Buffalo's Steven Means late in the first quarter. Teggart missed two of four attempts in last week's 24-20 loss to Iowa State.
Connecticut (1-2) at Buffalo (1-2) Sept. 24, 6:00
Here's The Deal … Connecticut is the defending Big East champion. You would not know it from the way it's played in September. The Huskies have dropped back-to-back games to Vanderbilt and Iowa State, hardly the kingpins of the SEC and Big 12, respectively. Head coach Paul Pasqualoni's first offense in Storrs has been, well, offensive to the staff and the fans of the program. The school has no easy fixes on the roster, and the reality is that the start of conference play is just around the corner.
Buffalo also rests at a game below .500, having dropped its first crack at a Big East opponent in a 35-16 opening day loss to Pittsburgh. The latest defeat to Ball State was a heartbreaker for the Bulls and second-year head coach Jeff Quinn. They couldn't make the necessary stops against the Cardinals, allowing the game-winning touchdown to be scored with under a minute left on the clock.
Why Connecticut Might Win: The Huskies should be able to dominate at the line of scrimmage, where their edge in size and strength will be evident. The offensive line will move the Bulls off the ball, creating plenty of space for precocious RB Lyle McCombs to roam. No. 43 is second in the league in rushing, with two 100-yard days to his credit. The Connecticut defense remains stout in the front seven and stingy in the secondary. Buffalo will have a hard time handling the likes of DT Kendall Reyes, DE Ted Jennings, LB Sio Moore and the rest of an aggressive and pressure-packed unit making a ton of stops behind the line.
Why Buffalo Might Win: Connecticut has major issues at quarterback, the kind that can derail a season. With no threat of a passing attack, the Bulls will be able to focus on stopping McCombs. Kahlil Mack is one of the MAC's top linebackers, a playmaker who leads the country in tackles for loss. He'll get plenty of help from linemen Colby Way and Steven Means. Buffalo actually has as good or better a situation in its offensive backfield. RB Branden Oliver has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his team's three games, and Cincinnati transfer Chazz Anderson has adapted nicely as the quarterback in Quinn's system.
What To Watch Out For: The linebackers will take center stage when the Huskies and Bulls meet this weekend. While Mack leads the country in stops for loss, Moore is No. 8 nationally in sacks. Both players possess tremendous instincts to turn good athleticism into great results. Neither gets much attention outside of the Northeast, which doesn't keep their respective SIDs from trying to spread the word. The linebackers' goals this weekend will be similar; Mack wants to slow down McCombs and Moore aims to end Oliver's streak of 100-yard games.
What Will Happen: Hosting a Big East school is a very big deal for Buffalo, so Connecticut will need to be on high alert. It's not as if the Huskies have much margin for error these days anyway. They'll out muscle the Bulls to a much-needed victory, winning the line of scrimmage for much of the evening. As mediocre as Connecticut has been so far in 2011, the D remains terrific. It'll help lead the way in a style-free, but welcome triumph for the visitors.
CFN Prediction: Connecticut 26 … Buffalo 14
Click For Latest Line From ATS:
Connecticut -8,5 O/U: 46.5
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