Bowling Green Falcons vs. Buffalo Bulls Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Bowling Green Falcons (3-5 SU, 3-5 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bulls (3-5 SU, 3-4 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday, November 3, 2009, UB Stadium, Buffalo, N.Y. TV: ESPN2
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Bowling Green +3.5/Buffalo -3.5
Over/Under: 57

The defending MAC champion Buffalo Bulls have struggled this season and are looking to get back on the right track with a win over Bowling Green on national television, as the two MAC foes meet in a Tuesday night ESPN2 battle.

Buffalo started its season strong with a 23-17 road win at UTEP, but the Bulls followed that up with four straight losses. Two of those losses were to the two top teams in the MAC – Temple and Central Michigan – and one was to Big East powerhouse Pittsburgh. The other was a six-point loss at UCF. Since then, they have wins over Gardner-Webb and Akron, and a three-point loss at Western Michigan.

Bowling Green has followed an identical path as Buffalo. The Falcons won their first game over Troy, but then lost four games in a row. After that, they won two in a row and lost their last game. Two of their losses were to nationally ranked teams – Missouri and Boise State – and they also lost to Central Michigan. But the losses to Marshall and Ohio were both winnable games that the Falcons lost by just a touchdown. They have notched two MAC road wins over Kent State and Ball State.

Buffalo is led by quarterback Zach Maynard, who has thrown for 1,998 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His two main targets are Naaman Roosevelt, who has 60 catches for 768 yards and six touchdowns, and Brett Hamlin, who has 50 catches for 666 yards and two touchdowns. Ide Nduka and Brandon Thermilus split the carries for the Bulls. Nduka has 88 carries for 568 yards and five touchdowns, while Thermilus has 78 carries for 293 yards two touchdowns. Nduka is clearly the more effective running back with a 6.5 yards-per-carry average as compared to Thermilus’s 3.8 average.

Bowling Green QB Tyler Sheehan is one of the top quarterbacks in college football this season. He has thrown for 2,677 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions with a 65.1 completion percentage. The Falcons are a strong throw-first team, as they have attempted 408 passes and handed the ball off only 165 times. One of the major reasons for Sheehan’s success is wide receiver Freddie Barnes, who has 99 receptions for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns. Barnes leads the country in receptions and receiving yards. The next closest receiver has 67 receptions, 32 less than Barnes’s 99. Sheehan ranks second in the country in passing yards.

Buffalo’s pass defense is above average nationally, as the Bulls have allowed 202.9 passing yards per game and eight passing touchdowns, while they have four interceptions for the year.

For the most part this season, Bowling Green’s defense has been the problem. The Falcons allowed at least 35 points to three straight opponents at one point this season. But they only allowed 24 points to a powerful Central Michigan offense in their last game and limited CMU QB Dan LeFevour to just 128 passing yards. Buffalo’s defense was looking pretty good against pass-heavy teams until its last game against Western Michigan, when the Bulls allowed 350 passing yards.

Bowling Green is 1-5 ATS in its last six games, but the Falcons are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games. The total has gone under in six of the Falcons’ last nine games.

Ryno’s Pick: The key to stopping Bowling Green is definitely stopping its passing attack, specifically Barnes. Sheehan doesn’t turn the ball over much, but the Bulls must get good pressure on him to disrupt his throws. Buffalo needs to control the clock when it has the ball. The Bulls must run the ball as much as possible to score some points and keep the Falcons offense off the field. Based on each team’s last performance, Bowling Green is the smart play. Nobody has shut down Sheehan and Barnes, and Buffalo isn’t going to be the team to do so. The Bulls were abused through the air in their last game, while the Falcons shut down Central Michigan’s passing game in their last game. Take Bowling Green +3.5.