Buffalo was the star of MACtion this year thanks to Jaret Patterson. He found the endzone 19 times in just 6 games while averaging over 178 rushing yards a game. It was a shame not to see him as one of the 10 Heisman finalists.
Buffalo ended up losing in the MAC championship after Patterson's injury midgame.
It looks like he will be playing today:
Marshall's Run Defense
Buffalo runs the 5th most in the country, only behind the 3 service academies and Georgia Southern. Without their rushing attack, they would not be as dominant as they were in the MAC. The issue for them today is they are going up a stout Marshall run defense. Here are there rankings:
Pro Football Focus: 5th
Line Yards: 33rd
Opportunity Rate: 5th
This is a bad matchup for Buffalo….Marshall excels at stopping what Buffalo wants to do on offense. I do not have the trust in QB Kyle Vantrease to beat Marshall, although the Buffalo QB does rank in the top 40 of CFB QBs in QBR and PFF.
Marshall's Offensive Struggles:
Grant Wells has been a bit disappointing this year. It looked like the freshman was going to be a star early in the season, but he ended up ranking 86th in QBR. Not all metrics agree though, Marshall's pass offense ranks 35th according to Pro Football Focus. His performance against Rice and UAB were ugly, though.
Marshall's offense overall ranks 60th in EPA/play and 69th in offensive FEI. Not awful numbers, but could certainly could be better. The good news is the Buffalo defense can be broken down, as shown in the Ball State averaging 5.4 yards per play in the MAC Championship Game. Overall, Buffalo's defense isn't awful on defense, ranking 37th in PFF and 57th in FEI.
I think Doc Holliday is one of the most underrated coaches in the country…specifically when it comes to bowl games. He is 6-1 all-time in bowl games and 6-1 ATS. He will have his boys ready.
Marshall will shut down Buffalo's rushing attack (especially with Patterson's injury) and do enough on offense to win this game. We'll see a running clock thanks to Buffalo's tendency to run and Marshall's lack of trust in Grant Wells.
Plays: Marshall +6 & under 53.5.
Bowl SZN: 5-4, +0.6 units.
2020: 150-139, +4.92u