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Buffalo vs. Toledo,
10-20-2018 - Pick and Prediction

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Game Snapshot with Current Line

#339 Buffalo
Bulls -1
#340 Toledo
Rockets 67

Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 12:00pm

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

Game Stats

Buffalo Bulls

6 - 1

5-2
ATS
5-1
O/U
33
PPG
21
OPPG

Toledo Rockets

3 - 3

2-4
ATS
4-1
O/U
42
PPG
34
OPPG

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Buffalo at Toledo

When and Where: Saturday, Oct. 20, Glass Bowl Stadium, Toledo, Ohio, Noon EDT.

Buffalo looks to maintain sole possession of first place in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference on Saturday when it takes on Toledo in a cross-division matchup.

The Bulls (6-1, 3-0 MAC East) have won back-to-back games since their lone loss and have a one-half game lead over Miami of Ohio, which they host Oct. 30, in the East Division. Buffalo, which is bowl eligible for just the fourth time in school history since moving to FBS in 1999, is off to its best start since moving up from FCS.

Bulls looking to nail down first bowl appearance since 2013

Buffalo was eligible to go bowling last season with a 6-6 finish but were left out of the post-season festivities after finishing fourth in the East Division.

This time around, Lance Leipold’s team is trying to make sure they cannot be left out. The Bulls — off to their first 6-1 start since 1959 — put forth their best defensive effort of the season last Saturday, limiting Akron to 13 first downs, 115 passing yards and 235 overall.

“Our defensive effort I thought was outstanding, keeping them out of the end zone,” Leipold told the school’s official website. “Especially as you get to this point in the year when you’re starting to get banged up in some spots. You’re starting to see different guys at different times. Last week we had some guards step in. You saw a lot of those guys today.

You’re seeing the young freshmen and I think that’s important because it wasn’t the cleanest of first halves obviously, and for us to work through that, I don’t know if we could have done that two years ago.”

Buffalo has held its last four opponents to 546 passing yards after being torched for 588 in wins over Temple and Eastern Michigan. The Bulls have also forced 14 turnovers in their seven games, matching their total for all of 2017.

Linebacker Khalil Hodge, who was named MAC athlete of the week after recording 12 tackles versus the Zips, has a team-high 86, including 4.5 for loss.

Offensively, quarterback Tyree Jackson threw for 212 yards and a touchdown while adding a season-high 57 on the ground. The redshirt junior already has a career high with 18 TD tosses and has thrown for 1,543 yards despite completing just 57 percent of his passes.

The Bulls have topped 100 yards on the ground in every game and 200 in each of the last two as Kevin Marks and Jaret Patterson have proven to be a formidable duo. Marks has team highs of 530 yards and seven TDs while Patterson has added 355 and five scores. Buffalo is averaging 181.9 rushing yards, good for third in the Mid-American Conference.

Furious second-half rally falls short for Toledo

The Rockets (3-3, 1-1 West) need to win this game to have any hopes of catching unbeaten West Division teams Northern Illinois and Western Michigan as they enter this game 2 1/2 games behind the Huskies and two back of the Broncos.

Toledo nearly overcame a 28-3 halftime deficit versus Eastern Michigan last weekend and had a chance to force overtime, but Mitchell Guadagni‘s two-point conversion pass for Bryce Mitchell with 20 seconds to play was broken up as the Rockets lost 28-26.

“Some very positive things went on in the second half of that game,” coach Jason Candle told The Toledo Blade. “I thought our team showed great resiliency and really had a fight to them. It’s probably the first time the entire season that I saw our team come together and play for one another at the level that I expect them to. There are some encouraging things there to build off of.”

Guadagni accounted for 281 total yards and two touchdowns, including a season-high 134 rushing yards as he went over 100 for the second time in three games. That has helped compensate for his struggles passing the ball as the junior has completed 18 of 37 passes for 206 yards in his last two games.

Despite those struggles, wide receiver Cody Thompson continues to be a standout performer. He has 19 receptions for 287 yards and a team-high six TDs, and his 18-yard scoring reception last Saturday was his school-record 26th receiving touchdown.

Toledo is averaging 436.7 yards offensively, including 201.5 per game on the ground. Guadagni leads the way with 387 yards on the ground, while Shakif Seymour and Bryant Koback have teamed for 535 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Defensively, though, the Rockets have struggled to the point where the 28 points given up against Eastern Michigan was their best effort against FBS teams in terms of points given up. Toledo has given up an average of 41.2 points and 500.4 yards in its last five games.

The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

Buffalo’s lone loss came to Army, which runs the triple option, and while that means the Bulls could struggle at times against Guadagni, who is a dual-threat quarterback, their pass defense could also turn him into a one-dimensional player given his recent struggles in the passing game.

Additionally, Toledo’s defense has been sub-par all season. One of the reasons the Rockets were able to pitch a second-half shutout versus Eastern Michigan last weekend was because Eagles starting quarterback Mike Glass left the game at halftime due to injury.

Buffalo’s offense has been both balanced and consistent all season, and the Bulls should have enough to notch their first seven-win season since going 8-5 in 2013.

Prediction: Pick: Buffalo +1.5

Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

While the over has hit four times in the previous five meetings between the teams, this is their first game against each other since 2013. And Buffalo’s defense should be able to force Guadagni into mistakes to create short fields for its offense. The Rockets defense could make an under pick risky given their season-long struggles, but the hedge here is Buffalo’s defense keeps Toledo in check and allows the under to sneak through.

Prediction: Pick: UNDER 67 points

Half-Time Side Pick
Rating:

The Bulls have led at halftime in all three of their road games, including by double-digit margins in the last two outside of Buffalo. Toledo has scored 66 first-half points in its three home games against FBS opponents, so this will be a close one, but the hedge is the Bulls’ defense does enough to get the job done and help them hold a halftime lead.

Prediction: Pick: Buffalo Pick ’em

Half-Time Total Bet
Rating:

While the overall over/under has dropped six points since its open, that has created a window of opportunity to thread the needle and take the over for the first two quarters. The first-half proficiency of the Rockets was established above, and the Bulls have done their part in the opening two quarters this season — they have averaged 20.4 first-half points this season.

There have also been a combined 149 first-half points in Toledo’s three home games. The over is a strong play here.

Prediction: Pick: OVER 30.5 points

Chris Altruda (@AlTruda73)

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is a freelance sportswriter based in Chicago. He has worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Can be followed on Twitter at @AlTruda73.

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