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Massachusetts03003
Buffalo01351432
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32


Massachusetts (1-5) at Buffalo (4-2)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 19, 3:30 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: UB Stadium (24,000) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: Time Warner Cable. Home Record: UMass 1-2, Buffalo 3-0. Away Record: UMass 0-3, Buffalo 1-2. Neutral Record: UMass 0-0, Buffalo 0-0. Conference Record: UMass 1-1, Buffalo 2-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 5-5.

GAME NOTES: The Massachusetts Minutemen will be seeking their second win in a row as they crash into the red-hot Buffalo Bulls for a Mid-American Conference bout at UB Stadium.

Coach Charley Molnar improved his career record to 2-16 last week as his Minutemen scored 10 unanswered points en route to a 17-10 decision over Miami- Ohio at Gillette Stadium. UMass had been outscored by an average of 24.6 points per game in its first five games of the season. The victory put the Minutemen in a tie for third place in the East Division standings. UMass has lost nine of its last 10 away games dating back to 2012.

The Bulls are coming off of a convincing, 33-0 shutout victory over Western Michigan at Waldo Stadium. The win was the fourth in a row and improved their MAC record to 2-0 for the first time in history. Coach Jeff Quinn's squad began the season with lopsided losses at Ohio State (40-20) and Baylor (70-13), but has since recovered to outscore its last three opponents, 116-26. In addition to its four-game overall winning streak, Buffalo has won its last five games at UB Stadium.

UMass and Buffalo began playing one another when both were members of the FCS. The Bulls defeated the Minutemen, 29-19, last season at Gillette Stadium to even the all-time series at five wins per side.

The Minutemen have struggled offensively throughout their 1-5 campaign. They began the season with a shutout loss at Wisconsin, scored only 14 points in a loss to Maine of the FCS and had been held to seven points in three straight games prior to the win over Miami. Molnar had been giving both of his quarterbacks a fair share of snaps under center, but A.J. Doyle took full command of the offense versus the RedHawks. The sophomore signal caller completed 19-of-35 attempts for 249 yards and two touchdowns as UMass established new season-highs with 376 yards of total offense and 23 first downs.

Doyle was also picked off twice, giving him four touchdowns through the air and the same number of interceptions on the campaign. Senior tight end Rob Branchflower made five receptions for a season-high 98 yards including his first touchdown catch of the year versus Miami. Branchflower has been effective since making his 2013 debut three games ago, which has taken pressure off of the team's leading target in the aerial attack, Tajae Sharpe. The sophomore wideout has tallied 35 receptions for 331 yards and half of the team's six touchdown catches. UMass has potential in its backfield with freshman Stacey Bedell and Jamal Wilson splitting the carries, however the team is ranked 106th nationally in rushing offense at 116.2 yards per game.

The Minutemen are coming off of their best defensive showing of the season. After surrendering averages of 484.4 ypg and 31.6 ppg through their first five games, Miami finished with only 290 yards of total offense and 10 points. UMass forced three turnovers while Stanley Andre led all players with a career-high 14 tackles. The strong performance was a step in the right direction, however it also came against one of the weakest offenses in the FBS.

The Bulls will provide a much tougher challenge with sophomore field general Joe Licata spearheading a very controlled attack. They are second in the nation in turnover margin (1.7) and have posted an average of 35.5 ppg during the span of their winning streak. Licata improved to 7-3 as a starter last week as he completed 11-of-21 pass attempts for 124 yards and three touchdowns. Senior tailback Branden Oliver rushed 19 times for 139 yards to make it two games in a row with at least 100 yards on the ground.

Alex Neutz made a two-yard touchdown reception at WMU, but made only one other catch for seven yards. The 6-foot-3 senior wideout is still among the MAC leaders with averages of 5.7 catches and 87.8 receiving yards per game and is second in the conference with six touchdown grabs.

The UB defense continued to dominate last week as it pitched the first road shutout for the program since 1965 and held the Broncos to only 202 total yards. WMU turned the ball over three times and gained only 38 rushing yards. Khalil Mack finished with six tackles, 1.5 for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Mack is in pursuit of the NCAA career records for both forced fumbles and tackles for loss. He now has 12 forced fumbles, three shy of the record, and he is 11 tackles for loss behind former WMU star Jason Babin's FBS standard of 75 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

With Mack anchoring the defensive unit, Buffalo has registered 10 interceptions and six fumble recoveries on the season, giving it the most takeaways of any MAC school. The Bulls have also registered a conference-high 21 sacks for 134 lost yards in six games.

UMass appears to be gaining ground on some of its conference rivals, however Buffalo is also on the rise. The Bulls have one of the league's elite players in Mack, who will create plenty of problems for the turnover-prone Doyle. Molnar's team will have no chance if it allows Oliver to get into a rhythm. Buffalo is one of just two teams without a loss in the East Division, making each week a must win to prevent Bowling Green from pulling away.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 31, Massachusetts 6

10/16 10:34:10 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHA 104
BOS 116
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
CAR
 
Final
DET 2
ATL 4
Final
TAM 6
BAL 6
Final
PIT 18
PHI 4
Final
STL 6
WAS 2
Final
NYM 7
MIA 1
Final
CWS 1
CLE 4
Final
OAK 11
COL 2
Final
TEX 7
KAN 11
Final
SEA 5
ANA 3
Final
CIN 3
SDP 6
Final
CHC 8
SFG 5
Final
ARI 2
LOS 4
Final
HOU 4
TOR 7
Final
BOS 14
MIN 2
1:05pm Today
TAM
BOS
 
1:05pm Today
STL
MIA
 
1:05pm Today
WAS
NYM
 
1:05pm Today
MIN
NYY
 
1:05pm Today
DET
PIT
 
1:05pm Today
BAL
TAM
 
1:07pm Today
TOR
PHI
 
4:05pm Today
TEX
CHC
 
4:05pm Today
LOS
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
MIL
CIN
 
4:05pm Today
SFG
COL
 
4:05pm Today
CLE
SEA
 
4:10pm Today
ANA
OAK
 
4:10pm Today
ARI
TEX
 
6:05pm Tonight
ATL
HOU
 
10:05pm Tonight
SDP
KAN
 
Final
CHA 104
BOS 116
Final
PHI 111
LAL 113
Final
TOR 99
HOU 96
Final
ATL 101
MIL 88
Final
MEM 97
SAC 83
Final
MIN 84
UTA 104
Final
POR 109
PHO 86
7:30pm Tonight
DET
ATL
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
IND
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
SAN
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
GSW
 
Final
LOYC 65
LAMON 58
7:00pm Tonight
TEMPL
MIAMI
 
7:00pm Tonight
EVAN
TENNM
 
9:00pm Tonight
NARZ
YALE
 
9:00pm Tonight
ODU
STAN
 
Final
MON 3
TAM 5
Final
STL 1
VAN 4
Final
DAL 3
CAL 5
Final
CHI 4
LOS 1
Final
COL 1
EDM 4
Final
ARI 1
BUF 4
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
CAR
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
FLA
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
NJD
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
OTT
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
TAM
 
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
NYR
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
VAN