There are a lot of things in life that never disappoint, and after last week, MACtion continues to be one of those things. The sacred midweek games that include bad weather, crazy fan promotions, and some questionable decisions made by coaches returned last week and will continue tonight with three games, including the Ohio Bobcats on the road to take on the Buffalo Bulls.
With Ohio on the hunt for a conference championship bid and coming off a bye week, I like their defense to come out tonight and dominate a mediocre, at best, Buffalo offense.
For the second straight week, the Buffalo Bulls must play an opponent near the top of the conference standings. On Halloween, the Bulls were on the road to play the first-place team in the MAC West, the Toledo Rockets. That game ended in a 31-13 loss and marked the third time in conference play the Bulls have failed to score more than two touchdowns. That lack of scoring has led to them being ranked 108th in offensive success rate.
Quarterback play has been a big issue for the Bulls all season, as starter Cole Snyder has taken a step back from last year and developed some turnover issues. Buffalo is undoubtedly sticking it out with Snyder no matter what since they rank 21st in pass attempts per game, but the volume of attempts has not changed the outcome. After completing just 34.1% of his passes last week and throwing for two interceptions, the Bulls are 121st in EPA on pass plays, and Snyder himself has a (-27.1) total EPA.
Defense has really been the only strength of this Buffalo team, resulting in them being ranked 50th in defensive success rate. The Bulls had been solid defensively through the first half of conference play, but they got exposed last week by Toledo. They’ll need to line up against another potent offense tonight as well, with Kurtis Rourke and the Bobcats offense coming to town with a top-20 passing offense in terms of success rate.
Prior to their bye week, the Bobcats' offense was held in check by Miami (OH), which led to their third loss of the year. Not only did their offense struggle, but it was the first time all year we saw the Bobcats' defense allow more than 23 points. Still, despite the loss, Ohio’s defense is still a top-five team in terms of total yards allowed per game.
For as good as Kurtis Rourke and the Ohio offense have shown they can be, I’m unable to trust them at times. However, I can count on the Ohio defense, which is why, for my play tonight, I’ll be taking the Buffalo team total under of 17.5 at (-118). Ohio has held teams under this total in seven of their nine games this season, including three of their conference games.
This is a Bobcats defense that is 14th in overall defensive success rate but also 22nd and 12th on pass and run success rate, respectively. Both their run and pass defense have been phenomenal seasons, but it’s their pass defense that gives them an advantage tonight. Opponents are averaging just 170.6 passing yards per game and 6.1 yards per attempt on the Bobcats secondary, which does not bode well for Cole Snyder.
Snyder already has more interceptions this season than he did all of last year, and now he has to face an Ohio defense that is 25th in interception percentage and 39th in sack percentage. Even if the Bulls decide to take some pressure off Snyder with their running game, they’re running into a defense that is 16th in EPA on rush plays. Buffalo has gone under this team total in three MAC games, and I think they’ll make it four tonight.
Buffalo Bulls Team Total Under 17.5 (-118 on BetRivers)