Miami ‘excited’ for MAC opener at Buffalo

RedHawks enter conference play off road upset of Northwestern

For the second week in a row, the Buffalo Bulls will be facing a Mid-American Conference team coming off a win over a Power Five conference team.

Buffalo went on the road last Saturday to overpower, 50-31, an Eastern Michigan team that had just pulled off an upset at Arizona State that helped cost Sun Devils coach Herm Edwards his job.

The Bulls return home on Saturday to face a Miami, which knocked off the Big Ten’s Northwestern, 17-14, at Evanston, Ill., last Saturday.

Beating the Eagles lifted the confidence level of a Buffalo team that was 0-3 going into the Eastern Michigan game.

“Last week, we laid our foundation,” linebacker Shaun Dolac told the Buffalo News. “We finally finished a game, and that set a foundation for this week, to keep going with that 1-0 mindset. That’s going to be consistent, and each week, each day, every day we come out on the field, we’ve got to fight, and we’ve got to continue to work and make each other better.”

“Now, we know that we can win,” said Bulls running back Mike Washington, who is ninth in the MAC in total rushing yards (218). “Now, it’s time we go on a run. That’s how we’ve been moving, and that’s how we’ve been thinking, throughout the week.”

“You could have said the same thing about Eastern, after they came off a win against Arizona State,” Washington said. “All we did was play UB football and we came out with the win. We played sound football, we executed and we dominated, the whole game. With this game coming up, it’s really about trusting our preparation to win a game, just like how we did last week.”

The RedHawks go into their MAC opener with their own heightened level of confidence. Not only did they log their first win over a Big Ten team since 2003, they finished their non-conference schedule with more than one win for the first time since 2005, leaving them anxious to start their conference schedule.

“It’s a good feeling.” 6-foot-6, 298-pound right offensive tackle Reid Holskey said. “It’s MAC-tion. We’re excited.”

Miami coach Chuck Martin was impressed by Buffalo’s overall effort against Eastern Michigan, a game that included just one punt by each team and no Bulls’ turnovers. Buffalo went 4-for-4 on fourth-down conversions, helping build a possession time advantage of 38:37 to 21:23.

“They always stayed ahead of the chains,” Martin said. “They were really good in all phases. They had a lot of chunk plays. They have a lot of new guys defensively. Sometimes, they’re real good. Sometimes, they’re undisciplined.”

Miami (2-2) was picked in a pre-season poll of MAC coaches to finish second behind Kent State in the East Division. The RedHawks were picked to win the division in a poll of MAC media members. Buffalo was picked to finish third in the East in both polls.

Despite undergoing a massive changeover on defense, Miami goes into the game ranked first in the MAC with an average of 25.8 points allowed per game and first in the conference and 11th in the nation with an average of 83.5 rushing yards allowed per game. The RedHawks rank second in the MAC with an average of 353.5 total offense yards allowed per game.

With 6-1, 203 redshirt freshman quarterback Aveon Smith filling in since late in the opener at Kentucky for injured junior Brett Gabbert, Miami ranks 10th in the conference with an average of 19.5 points per game and last in the 12-team conference with an average of 137.3 passing yards per game.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Miami at Buffalo, 3:30 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450

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