#91 Buffalo 2018 Football Preview

Buffalo Bulls
Overall Rank: #91
#4 Mid-American
 Buffalo Logo
Buffalo was bowl eligible last year for just the third time in program history. However, they did not get a bowl invite. But it was still a successful season for the Bulls and they will look to take the next step and reach their first bowl game since 2013.
2017 Record: 6-6, 4-4
2017 Bowl: None
Coach: Lance Leipold (13-23 at Buffalo, 123-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Andy Kotelnicki
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Borland
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Emmanuel Reed, RB, 840 yards
Passing: Tyree Jackson, QB, 2,096 yards
Receiving: Anthony Johnson, WR, 1,356 yards
Tackles: Khalil Hodge, LB, 154
Sacks: Chuck Harris, DE, 4.0
Interceptions: Khalil Hodge, LB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Theo Anderson, WR K.J. Osborn, OL James O’Hagan, CB Tatum Slack, LB Jordan Collier
Key Losses: WR Kamathi Holsey, DL Demone Harris, S Ryan Williamson, LB Jarrett Franklin
The high expectations are largely due to quarterback Tyree Jackson. In eight games last season, the 6-7 junior threw for 2,096 yards and 12 touchdowns, while adding 197 yards on the ground and four more scores. Jackson has some great options at wide receiver, led by Anthony Johnson who caught 76 passes for 1,356 yards and 14 touchdowns. KJ Osborn is a superb secondary receiver. He may not put up numbers like Johnson, but Osborn is a dangerous threat who will take advantage of the opposition worrying about Johnson too much. The ground game will again be led by Emmanuel Reed. As a sophomore last year he rushed for a team high 840 yards and nine touchdowns. Johnathan Hawkins started the first three games at running back before missing the rest of the 2017 season with an injury. He will likely share carries with Reed this season and that gives Coach Lance Leipold a ton of offensive weapons.
The Bulls defense vastly improved last season, allowing just 24.8 points per game. And that includes a seven overtime contest against Western Michigan when Buffalo allowed 71 points. No player in football has tallied more tackles over the last two years than Khalil Hodge. The senior linebacker totaled 154 last season and 123 back in 2016. On top of all of those tackles, in 2017 Hodge added 3.0 sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He is a playmaker and is the favorite to take home the MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Jordan Collier will again team up with Hodge in the middle of the defense. The front four has a star in Chuck Harris, who recorded 4.0 sacks and added 73 tackles. Cameron Lewis and Brandon Williams form a strong cornerback duo, but there are some concerns at safety where two new starters need to be found.
The Bottom Line:
Buffalo should battle for a MAC East title this year. This is an experienced, talented and explosive team. The potentially big game comes late in the season when Buffalo travels to Ohio on November 14th. That contest could decide the division champion.
Projected Bowl: Idaho Potato Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 141.1 (92nd in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 290.8 (22, 1)
Total Offense: 431.9 (36, 3)
Scoring Offense: 28.5 (63, 5)
Rushing Defense: 194.8 (96, 9)
Pass Defense: 203.3 (38, 5)
Total Defense: 398.2 (71, 8)
Scoring Defense: 24.8 (49, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.08 (59, 3)
Sacks: 1.58 (102, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 1.42 (21, 2)