Instant Analysis: Kent State-Buffalo
It's been a rare week in upstate New York, as a Buffalo football team will come from the college ranks and not (likely) from the NFL. The Bulls have captured the imagination of their fan base, and of national observers who have learned a lot about the program that, half a century ago, refused the only other bowl invitation it received in 102 years of gridiron competition. With this kind of history being made in the present moment, it was understandable for the Bulls to lack perfect tunnel-vision focus against visiting Kent State, a week before the battle with the conquering Cardinals from Indiana. What wasn't quite so expected was a defeat that took a little of the shine off the regular season produced by the MAC East champions.
In a see-saw contest that saw five lead changes, the Golden Flashes got the last laugh, as quarterback Julian Edelman hit Jonathan Simpson on a 25-yard touchdown strike with just under six minutes left in regulation. On a day when Kent State gashed Buffalo's defense for 312 rushing yards, it was ironic that a pass play ultimately beat the Bulls.
While an aerial ultimately ousted them, the Bulls struggled throughout the afternoon because of the aforementioned success KSU had on the ground. Edelman and his teammate, running back Eugene Jarvis, both ran for at least 150 yards (Edelman finished with 167, Jarvis at 150 on the dot), enabling the visitors to shorten the game, sustain field position, and keep the proceedings close. When crunch time came calling, the presence of a formidable rushing attack enabled Kent State to go to the air with great success, and that's why the home team got Buffaloed.
Buffalo has still produced a sensational regular season, and now, Turner Gill's team can devote all its attention to Ball State. But with the lack of consistency shown by the boys from UB against Kent State, it's going to be hard for this club to find the sustained excellence that will be needed to conquer the mighty Cardinals next week in Detroit.