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Akron @ Buffalo -- Preview

By mrasor Published: October 16, 2009

The Zips continue the nightmare season at Buffalo with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
The Zips are 0-2 in the MAC. A loss would put them a full three games behind division leader Temple. And that will all but clinch another season without a postseason.
Buffalo is a team with a disappointing record of 2-4, but the Bulls haven't really lost a game they should have won. Statistically, the team is top-five in the MAC in four important categories: pass offense, pass defense, run offense and run defense.
The differences between last year's Cinderella run and this year, however, are turnovers and special teams. Buffalo is second-to-last in the conference in turnover margin, after having the MAC's best margin last season (and third best in the nation). Sophomore quarterback Zack Maynard has thrown seven picks, compared to Drew Willy's six all of last season. The Bulls also have given up an average of 38.7 yards per kick return.
Maynard is playing well, though. He has 11 touchdowns and is the conference's fourth-leading passer. Junior running back Ike Nduka has played well while James Starks sits out the season with an injury.
This is a team that, to me, appears poised to pull everything together for the stretch of MAC games.

    Here is what I wrote about the Bulls on June 17, when 78 percent of readers thought Akron would win.
    Here is Tom Gaffney's preview. He mentions that this is the first of three-consecutive road games.
    You can check out this week's MAC Blogger Roundtable here.
    The Bulls are eight-point favorites. The over-under is 45.5.
    Here are my comments to a Buffalo blogger. The blogger, Tim Riordan, gave me his expectations for Saturday:
    Right now the fans are trying to avoid the Morgan/Coastal Carolina trap that sucked in Akron and Kent fans earlier this season. I am not holding onto any hope that we will catch Temple, Though if we win out and they lose to Toledo and Ohio, and .... Never mind...
    UB lost a close game CMU (The best team in the conference), and gave a game to Temple (who is arguably the best team in the East). Our only 'bad' loss right now is to UCF. The 14 turnovers so far this season are troublesome but I think that might be behind us. The big question going forward is how many more injuries can this team weather.
    Look for Buffalo to try and establish Nduka (300 yards in his last tow games), if Maynard has any kind of a running game backing him up he becomes extremely dangerous in the 8-15 yard passing game, from that distance Roosevelt can do the rest. I don't think Akron is going to keep UB from scoring less than 20 points but they may keep UB off the board early in the game (they will need to jump all over us if they want to win).
    Defensively its hard to know what to expect, our only complete defensive game was against an FCS school and Nicely is an unknown quantity right now. For a true freshman thrown into a game because of injury he looked impressive, its a little frighting to think what he will do with a full week of snaps. If you're going to beat us up anywhere its going to be short passes with yards after catch, Nicely should have time to deliver the ball, our DL has only two sacks all year.

Prediction -- When I was considering Buffalo's outlook, I was thinking, "You know what? They don't have it so bad." And yet, Buffalo probably has no chance to catch Temple for a trip to Detroit. My point is, expectations are so low for me right now, it's even easier to find hope in the Browns' season.
Here are my goals for the rest of the season: 1) Get some serious progress out of Patrick Nicely. 2) Have more young leaders emerge on defense. 3) DeVoe Torrence shows he can be a featured back. 4) Beat Kent state.
Oh, I was supposed to say something about a prediction... Akron 17, Buffalo 31.
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