Ohio State (12-0, 6-0 B1G)
Buffalo (4-8, 3-5 MAC)
This will be the first meeting between the Buckeyes and the Bulls, who are members of the Mid-American Conference. The Bulls are in their third season with head coach Jeff Quinn and they closed out the 2012 campaign by winning 3 of their last 4 games. The record for UB in 2012 was 4-8, going 3-5 in the MAC east. Their three wins in conference were against Miami (Oh), W. Michigan and UMASS. Their lone win out of conference was against FCS – Morgan State.
On offense the Bulls have some solid MAC East players. Sophomore quarterback Joe Licata became the starter with four games left in the season and is 3-1 as Buffalo’s starter. Licata’s most productive start was against Western Michigan where he went 21/33 for 285 yards and a touchdown. You could also see the more run oriented senior, Alex Zordich at quarterback depending on the situation. The leading receiver for UB is Alex Neutz. Neutz is a first team all MAC performer, he had 1,015 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns. The running game will be carried by senior running back Brandon Foster. Foster ran for 821 yards as a junior last year, he did this in only five complete games. He missed three games completely with injury and missed a large part of four others. In his sophomore season he ran for over 1,000 yards. Sophomore Devin Campbell also racked up over 700 yards of combined offense.
The defensive challenge for Ohio State will be dependent on which quarterback starts for Buffalo. If Licata is the starter, the big challenge will be shutting Alex Neutz and not letting the best receiver for Buffalo get rolling. With the suspension of Bradley Roby, it might provide an opportunity for Neutz to be a little more productive than he would otherwise be. I suspect that Licata will play because our defensive line should be able to shut down any MAC teams ability to run the ball. Quick passes and slant routs should be what the Bulls attempt to do. We should get to see the coverage ability of our linebackers because long routes that take time to develop should be hard to come by.
Defensively, the Buffalo Bulls are a solid Mid American Conference defense. Buffalo was second in total defense, fourth in rushing defense and second in pass defense. The defensive line is solid led by all name team Krisjan Sosoli and Beau Bachtelle, but the real talent of the defense is linebacker Khalil Mack. Khalil Mack is the most draft worthy NFL talent in the MAC. Khalil Mack is a first team Mid-Am conference selection registering 94 tackles, 21 for loss. He had eight sacks and forced four fumbles. The defensive backfield is sold. Buffalo’s corners were 1 and 2 in the conference in interceptions. Courtney Lester and Najja Johnson had nine interceptions and several pass break ups between them.
This is a good defense for Ohio State to play in their first game. With the returning veterans we have coming back it will be a solid measuring stick of where the Buckeyes are early in the season. Our offensive line should be able to move an MAC defensive line. We will get to see how Braxton Miller deals with a good linebacker and solid cornerbacks. Devin Smith and Philly Brown should be able to be very productive. I expect that the UB defense will tire early with the tempo that Ohio State should set. The blowout will happen when Lester and Johnson come off the field and Mack is tired because we are running 7 and 8 plays in a minute.
Jeff Quinn is a solid football coach. He is 9-27 in three years at Buffalo. The Bulls have improved in all three years under Quinn and are hoping for a significant jump in victories in his third season. Winning three of their last four games in 2012 earned Quinn an opportunity to remain with the Bulls for 2012. Quinn was the coordinator for the explosive offensives at Cincinnati from 2007 to 2009. Including the 2009 Bearcats who went 12-0 and appeared in the Orange Bowl.
Urban Meyer is Urban Meyer. Urban’s teams have never lost on opening day. From Bowling Green to Utah, to Florida to Ohio State. In 12 years as a head coach Meyer’s teams in week 1 have outscored their opponents 464-120.
In conclusion, this is the first game of the year against a MAC team. It should be a beautiful late summer day in Ohio Stadium and the Buckeyes should win. We should get to see everyone on the roster get a snap or two, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the trainers and equipment guys don’t get a few plays near the end of the fourth quarter. This should be a flat out beat down. Put some steaks on the grill, get your corn hole boards ready to go and fire back a beer (or 12). Buckeyes roll 59-13.