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Countdown to Buffalo

AP Photo/Chris O"Meara

Jahwan Edwards looks to run over, around, and through the Bulls

Not all Saturdays were created equal. In fact, I can’t remember a Saturday I looked forward to as much as this one for a while now. Sure, the season opener makes me giddy. Last week’s trip to South Florida set my heart aflutter. But this weekend is big. Gigantic. Enormous, I would dare say. It’s the chance for Pete Lembo and his team to show that last week was the fluke and not the Lucas Oil beatdown. It’s the chance to win his first MAC game and be one step closer to a Championship in Detroit. But it isn’t all a one-way street for the team. It’s the chance for the Cardinal fans and students to show up, in force, and make their presence known. It’s the opportunity to prove that the work being done by the football staff and players to surround the program with interest and attitude wasn’t for not. So yeah… it’s big. Time to count you down to kickoff for the home opener, MAC opener, and Muncie premier of the Pete Lembo show…

5 Things You Should Know

  1. Buffalo (and more importantly their fans) expects to win this game
    No one ever knows the inner workings of a team and their mental attitude about a game besides the players and staff. But if the fans are any indication, then we shouldn’t even play the game. This is a contest BSU cannot win, we don’t deserve to step on the field with the mighty Bulls, and to be truthful, we should simply cower in the corner in a puddle of our own urine. More on this in #5 of this section. Oh… and in case you have forgotten, Buffalo beat Ball State in the 2008 MAC Championship Game. If you have forgotten, you’ll be reminded of it within three minutes of interaction with a Bulls fan. So they’ve got that going for them… which is nice, I guess.
  2. The records may be the same, the opponents are far from it
    Both teams open MAC play at 1-1, but any fan that looks at both records as equal isn’t quite grasping what’s going on. Buffalo’s wins came against FBS Pitt and FCS Stonybrook. The Cards have played FBS Indiana and top-20 ranked South Florida. Anyone that looks as those two teams the same as Buffalo’s doesn’t have a grasp on reality. Yes, Indiana is bad… we know this. But they aren’t FCS bad. Yet.
  3. Buffalo’s had a bit of a problem against the rush this season but their defense is not that bad
    In Buffalo’s two games, they’ve given up 415 rushing yards, including 201 yards to Pitt’s Ray Graham. Far from defensive stalwarts against the run, if the Cardinals can abuse that fact then the passing game opens up. They have defensive weapons up front in Khalil Mack and Steven Means, but they also have a redshirt freshman converted wide receiver at a corner spot that seems ripe for the picking on.
  4. The Bulls are actually a versatile offense
    The first game of the year against Pitt, the balance between pass and rush was staggering. 49 attempts through the air, 44 rushes. Against Stony Brook, it was 24 each. This isn’t a one-dimensional team that you can simply shut down one area of the offense and coast to a win. Defensive Coordinator Jay Bateman has his work cut out for him, but the BSU defense has outperformed expectations so far this season.
  5. Their fans are the epitome of classless delusional assholes
    See: #1. For the most part, I take opposing fanbases with a grain of salt. However, even I have my limit. The constant referencing of the MAC Championship Game, the treatment of Muncie and Ball State, the potshots at players and BSU fans… it’s all just ridiculous. When your team is a traditional power, you can be a douchebag and get away with it. When the only relevant moment your team has had in decades was more about what your opponent failed to do than what you did, it makes you an unrelenting bag of hot air. As a disclaimer, Tim runs Bull Run and he’s measured and good at what he does. When he busts chops, I write it off as good-natured. And granted, I may be letting a small but vocal minority of the fanbase characterize my opinion, but so it goes.

4 Players You Should Know

  1. Branden Oliver, RB
  2. Khalil Mack, LB
  3. Steven Means, DE
  4. Chazz Anderson, QB

3 Ways We Win

  1. The offensive line keeps Wenning’s jersey clean and opens holes for the RB attack
    If the Cardinals can limit the penetration of Bulls like Mack and Means, the passing game should be able to get rolling. Once that happens, the rushing attack can begin, where UB is vulnerable.
  2. The defensive front seven shuts down the run
    If Oliver is contained and the UB rushing attack is contained up front, then the linebacking crew can help in coverage and allow our secondary to ball hawk, a position that Sean Baker is quite comfortable in if I do say so myself.
  3. We don’t turn the ball over
    We all know what happens when we turn the ball over against Buffalo. But much like last year, in a game changed tremendously by turnovers, holding onto the football in conference play is absolutely critical. BSU looked extremely sharp in this regard against the Hoosiers, not so much against the South Florida Bulls. As the turnover battle goes, so will go this game.

2 Cardinal Questions

  1. Which running back will be “The Man” in the home opener?
    As referenced above, Buffalo has had a bit of a problem defending the rush this season. Lucky for BSU there’s a slew of talented backs just itching to bust it loose. Whether that’s Jahwan Edwards, Barrington Scott, Dwayne Donigan or someone else, someone needs to step up, announce their presence with authority, and serve notice to the Bulls and the rest of the MAC that the BSU rushing attack wasn’t a byproduct of IU’s awful defense.
  2. What sort of crowd are we going to see at the Scheu?
    After a successful showing from the BSU faithful in Indianapolis for the season-opener, a large turnout is expected with anything less a bit of a disappointment. If Scheumann Stadium isn’t rocking and rolling for the MAC home opener and the first Muncie showing of the Lembo-led Cardinals, that could be a stumbling block for the Cards.

1 Bold Prediction
I know the old adage is to be humble and respectful, fear no one, and see the good in the opponents and fanbases that you face. Build up those you expect a win from so as to make that victory look all the more impressive. I know that’s what I should do. I know it deep down inside. But after spending the last hour or so checking out the various UB fansites and messageboards and watching them invade the little BSU corner of the internet, that ain’t happenin’. My prediction? Pain. Immense amounts of it for the UB faithful that make the trip to Muncie or stream the game online. Failure to admit truth doesn’t make it any less valid, and unfortunately for Buffalo, the facts don’t add up. Last year’s BSU team was short on momentum and in the midst of chaos, and despite all that defeated the Bulls on their home field. This year? Long on momentum, long on belief, long on talent. A home opener, an engaged student body, and a swagger amidst the program I haven’t seen in years. I’ll go with 35-14, Ball State and in the words of Sean Payton in The Boys of Fall, “They’re a faceless opponent. They just happened to draw the short straw tonight. Now get your asses ready to play. Win on three.”

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One Response

  1. Good post……get me a unifirm coach…now let’s go get them!!!

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