Since I’m up early, I decided to give my final thoughts for Saturday’s Temple vs. Buffalo Mid-American Conference East Division game.
The Owls (4-2, 2-1 MAC) are looking to cap their homecoming weekend with a third consecutive victory over the rival Bulls (2-4, 1-1). But Buffalo is determined to avenge last season’s embarrassing 42-0 setback to Temple at UB Stadium.
Here are a few keys to the game.
- Establish the run game. The Owls’ success has to do with their running game. They win games when they have success running the ball. When they don’t have success, they lose. So Temple needs to run Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown until they’re past the point of exhaustion. Buffalo is yielding an average of 184.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks ninth in the MAC. The Owls need to take advantage of that.
- Contain Chazz Anderson. This is something Ohio University didn’t do last week. And that’s a big reason why Buffalo pulled off a 38-37 upset victory. Anderson, a senior quarterback who transferred from Cincinnati, completed 23 of 39 passes for a career-best 343 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulls are tough when Anderson and running back Branden Oliver are both on top of their games. That’s why the Owls need to contain after the quarterback.
- Keep an eye on Khalil Mack. The Buffalo outside linebacker might be the best playmaker on the field. He has 12 tackles for a loss, four sacks, four forced fumbles and 10 quarterback hurries. The Owls must keep him out of the backfield.
- Keep testing Temple’s cornerbacks. The Owls cornerbacks are the weak link of a talented defense. Temple’s corners have given up long completions and underneath routes. Anderson could take advantage of that and get big plays in the passing game.
- Bring the wood. That means duplicate the physical play it had in the victory over Ohio. The Owls pride themselves on being a tough team. However, Pierce lost his edge against a physical Penn State defense. And he was a nonfactor after a second-half fumble against Toledo. Temple lost both game. So Buffalo needs to follow that blueprint.
- Take chances. The Bulls can’t be conservative if they expect to win. They need to try to convert fourth-and-short situations and open up their playbook. When you are a huge underdog, every play counts. Buffalo better use all of them.