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Baylor vs. Buffalo Preview / Prediction Thread

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Will Petty's return power Baylor to a huge blowout, or might the upset-minded Bulls blackout the Bears?

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
vs.
8/7 BAYLOR (2-0) vs. NR/NR BUFFALO (1-1)
Sept. 12, 2014 | 7:00 p.m. CT
Buffalo, N.Y. | UB Stadium (29,013)

TV: ESPN
Listen | Gametracker Gametracker | Game Notes Notes | Tickets | Gameday Central


ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Buffalo Bulls 2014
FIRST LOOK:
Buffalo Bulls
ODB PREDICTS: Baylor vs. Buffalo
BUFFALO DEPTH CHART: from Bull Run
SB NATION BLOG: Bull Run
SPREAD: Baylor -35 (Open: Baylor -27)
ROLL CALL -- TV Listings, Radio, and Watch Parties
BAYLOR UNIFORMS: STORMTROOPER

Buffalo SB Nation Preview
BaylorBears.com Preview
Bears vs Bulls coverage

Injury News:

Baylor: QB Bryce Petty (WILL PLAY), WR Antwan Goodley (OUT), WR Corey Coleman (OUT), WR Levi Norwood (OUT), WR Clay Fuller (OUT), TE Tre'Von Armstead (WILL PLAY), RB Devin Chafin (OUT)

Buffalo: /shrug emoticon

Advanced Stats:

Eventually, this chart will be filled in, expanded, and move to its own day in the weekly preview structure as the Stats Previews I love so much.  Right now, it should be taken with a tremendous grain of salt, since only one of our games (SMU) is included in either metric, FEI or S&P+, and then only to the point that the game was considered in doubt.  Right now, I'm just including this for reference.  These numbers can and will change dramatically over coming weeks.  Whatever movement you see right now is based on SMU laying down this past week against UNT.

2014 FootballOutsiders Metrics for Baylor vs. Buffalo. Last week's numbers, so much as they exist, are in parenthesis. Dashes (---) mean there are no such numbers to report.

Category Baylor
(2-0)
Buffalo
(1-1)
EDGE
2014 F/+ Rk 13 (11) 100 (93)
BAYLOR
2014 F/+ Special Teams
--- --- ---
2014 FEI Rk 23 (19) 89
BAYLOR
2014 S&P+ Rk 7 (6) 105
BAYLOR

When Baylor
Has the Ball ...
EDGE
2014 S&P+
4 94 BAYLOR
2014 Success Rate
-- -- --
2014 Points Per Play
-- -- --
2014 Rushing S&P+ Rk -- -- --
2014 Passing S&P+ Rk -- -- --
2014 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk -- -- --
2014 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk -- -- --

When Buffalo
Has the Ball ...
EDGE
2014 S&P+
43 83 Baylor
2014 Success Rate
-- -- --
2014 Points Per Play
-- -- --
2014 Rushing S&P+ Rk -- -- --
2014 Passing S&P+ Rk -- -- --
2014 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk -- -- --
2014 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk -- -- --

We don't have to spend much, if any, time on this.  Baylor is considered a much better team than Buffalo, but I didn't need to tell you that.  We're a 35-point road favorite for a reason.

Thoughts on the Game:

I've been sitting here for the last two days trying to come up with something, anything, new to say about this week's game against Buffalo.  I showed you in the First Look Buffalo's schedule and results, and the fact that they are probably not a very good team.  We have at least a little reason to believe Baylor is, even if how good might still be up for debate.  If you watched the Bull Run webcast that I participated in last night, you know that even their own fans think Buffalo is going to get blown out this weekend.  That's not a knock on them; they're probably right.

The big story this week has been, once again, the health of Baylor QB Bryce Petty.  The team has now officially announced that he will play tomorrow night against the Bulls, a decision that prompted questioning from some, rejoicing from others, and general shrugs along the lines of "Does it really matter?" from the rest.  We know he will play, though, after missing the Northwestern State game last Saturday, and he will start.  The burgeoning Seth Russell-for-Heisman campaign will have to wait.

Now, the bigger question is not if Petty will play, but how.  Facing a defense that is 90th in total defense, 110th in scoring defense, and 120th in passing efficiency defense, it would seem that Petty has the chance to light things up.  I just don't know that he'll definitely get the opportunity.  Coming back from his injury and facing the #99 run defense (by yards allowed), I could understand Baylor deciding to keep things on the ground with Shock Linwood and Johnny Jefferson.  If that happens, it will probably limit our scoring chances generally and keep the huge plays to a minimum, especially considering how much our offense relies on the vertical threat.  If, however, we do decide to air things out to K.D. Cannon, Davion Hall, and Jay Lee, things could get ugly quickly.  Buffalo's secondary will be overmatched basically as soon as we decide to test it, so the only real question here is how much and how well we'll be able to run the ball, since that has been a bit of an adventure thus far this season.

On the other side, Buffalo will start a QB in Joe Licata who threw three interceptions last week against Army in what is apparently considered his finest performance as a Bull.  It even earned him weekly recognition from the MAC, if you believe.  Alex Neutz, the guy who plagued us last year with those long catches early, is gone, to be replaced by juniors Ron Willoughby (6-4, 196) and Marcus McGill (6-1, 227).  I'll be watching to see how Xavien Howard handles either one, since it seems likely that Buffalo will avoid him as much as possible given what we've seen.  If you're looking for a way that Buffalo hangs with or beats Baylor in this game, Licata having a legitimate "game of his life" performance is it.  Buffalo has, through 2 games, the #16 passing offense in the country, and even with our defensive line performing as well as it has so far this season, the possibility exists that Buffalo could throw on us a bit.  I won't say I expect it, because I don't, but I felt like I had to mention it for any semblence of objective analysis.  Something worth watching is that Buffalo is tied for #24 in the country in sacks allowed with just 2, while Baylor is alone at #1 in sacks (amassed/collected/won?) with 12.

Later on this evening, Peter and I will host a live webcast here on ODB where we'll take questions from the community and talk everything Buffalo.  Also, check out the wonderful preview from S11 over on BearsTruth.com, if you are a subscriber.

My Prediction:

Since I don't have to predict whether Petty will play, we'll get straight to the next question I mentioned.  I have a feeling that Baylor will play it relatively safe early before letting Petty test things out either late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter.  That's not a guarantee, obviously, but it makes sense to ease him back into a game and give our running backs the chance to open things up.  That makes me think we won't score as many points early as we otherwise could.

By the end of the game, though, I don't think it will matter.  The over/under in this game is set at 70, and I'm going to stick to my pattern and take the over until proven otherwise.  Since I think Buffalo is probably going to score a touchdown or two off broken coverage at some point, that means Baylor has to score 56 points or more.  Petty will throw a couple of TDs in the first half before yielding to Seth at some point in the third quarter, then we'll see a lot of Silas Nacita and company in the fourth just as we did a week ago.  Weather shouldn't be a big issue either way since it will be neither cold nor hot.

Final Score: Baylor 59, Buffalo 13*

*This prediction assumes Baylor plays it relatively safe with Petty early in the game.  To cover myself, if Petty comes out throwing bombs from the get-go, we'll probably score in the 60s.

Give me your predictions in the comments and vote in the poll!