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Game Week: Prediction Time

(Joe Licata will start at quarterback for Buffalo this weekend/Buffalo.com)

It seems to me that Buffalo is a better version of what UMass was trying to be last year.

Let me explain.

Like Kevin Morris’ Minutemen, the Bulls like to run out of the pro style, rely on the running game, and drop back into a situational shotgun. Buffalo also utilizes a 3-4 defense that depends on aggressive linebackers and talented safeties. Replace Branden Oliver with Jonathan Hernandez, Lee Skinner with Tyler Holmes, and Derek Brim with Darren Thellen. The similarity is almost eerie.

The major difference is that Buffalo has several years of MAC-level recruiting under its belt. As UMass fans have learned, there is a stark difference between CAA athletes and those that commit to programs like Ohio, Bowling Green, and, yes, Buffalo.

The Bulls have done well with redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Licata, winning two-straight home games. Licata is a pretty good game manager and allows Buffalo to rely on its greatest strength – up-the-gut running. By virtue of Alex Zordich‘s injury, UMass likely won’t face its kryptonite this weekend: a quarterback who can run.

Instead, UMass will line up against a MAC version of its former self. In order to compete, the Minutemen will have to win the fight in the trenches. In a way, it will be reminiscent of playing Maine a few years back. A really big, and really fast, Maine.

While the Minutemen are off the schneid, I don’t think they’re ready to go on their first win streak. Buffalo’s blitz-happy attack is likely too much for an offensive line that it still trying to find smallest bit of continuity. The Bulls are eventually going to capitalize on a UMass defense that stays on the field too long.

My prediction:

  • Buffalo: 28
  • UMass: 14

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