The Buffalo Bulls play host to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers on Saturday afternoon from UB Stadium in a crucial non-conference tilt. Coastal Carolina enters the game 2-0 and is 16th in the AP Poll after a historic 2020 season. For Buffalo, a loss last week quickly tempered expectations but hopes are still high with them entering 1-1. Fans are expected to turn out for Saturday's game and what Buffalo lacks on the field, they're hoping to more than makeup for with home-field advantage. This will be Coastal's first road game of the season but they'll bring in one of the nation's most explosive offenses, while Buffalo will look to slow them down any way possible. In what Coastal hopes to be another historic season, Buffalo is looking to return to their own version of success. Regardless, Saturday's matchup promises to be one of the more intriguing games on the Group of Five slate.
Coastal Eyes G5 Elite StatusCoastal Carolina has already used last season's success as a strong barometer in the rankings to start the season and if things go well, a Group of 5 New Year's Day invite, could be coming their way. The Chanticleers went 11-1 last season, including 8-0 in the Sun Belt, and have picked up right where they left off so far in 2021. Opening wins over The Citadel and Kansas came with ease and now they have their eyes set on their first true road tasks of the season. Last season saw them go 5-0 on the road and there's no reason to think they won't have the ability to dominate on Saturday. Not only do they have one of the nation's best offenses, but their defense is top 50 in the early going as well. They have a clean bill of health as well and after a few years of success, having depth to go with their top-end talent can make it difficult for any opponent to tame them, let alone a middle-of-the-road MAC team. Against Kansas last week, they put up 49 points after putting up 52 the week prior, meaning Buffalo needs to be ready for an offensive onslaught on Saturday afternoon.
The Coastal Carolina offense made huge strides from 2019 to 2020, and after just two weeks, it looks like 2021 will be much of the same. After two games, they rank fourth in the country in points per game, at 50.50, and are second nationally in total yards per play, at 9.15. Add in a top 25 rushing attack and top 30 passing attacks, and the balance that the Chanticleers have is unmatched at the Group of 5 levels. Grayson McCall continues to be exceptional as the leader, tossing for 507 yards and three touchdowns in two games, while not throwing an interception yet. The rushing attack is a two-headed monster, with Reese White (82 yards/game) and Shermari Jones (71.50 yards/game) spearheading the attack. White has five touchdowns on the ground already and as a team, they have nine in just two games. The key though is Jaivon Heiligh, who had 65 catches for 998 yards and ten touchdowns last season. This year, he's already averaging 127.5 yards per game and has added two touchdowns. The balance of the Chanticleers will likely be too much for the Bulls to stop.
With all eyes on the offense, the defense has taken a back seat but hasn't had any issues coming into the season slightly underrated. The secondary is one of the most experienced in the country and after making a living off turnovers last season, have yet to make a big impact on that side of things this season. Three tacklers are tied for the team lead with 12 each, while Josaiah Stewart is off to an incredible start, leading the team with 3.5 sacks already. Buffalo will have their hands full with the speed at which the Chanticleers move as a team and can cover the entire field. They enter ranked 47th in points allowed per game and have been stout at getting to the quarterback, ranking 18th nationally in sacks per game.
Buffalo Eyeing Home UpsetBuffalo is coming off an impressive season last year, ging 6-1 overall and 5-1 in the MAC. Success though meant some turnover in the coaching ranks, as Maurice Linguist is in year one and trying to prove himself. Buffalo easily took care of FCS foe, Wagner, taking them down 69-7 at home in the opener. Last week was more of a challenge though, losing on the road to Nebraska, 28-3. A return home might be just what the doctor ordered, but having to now welcome a top twenty team in Coastal Carolina will present its own unique challenges. Buffalo has some quality to their team as well, ranking top 50 nationally in both points per game and points allowed per game. They're yet to allow a single first quarter-point and if they can make a quick splash scoring off the bat, they might put some shock into Coastal Carolina and gain some momentum for one of their biggest game of the season. One area of concern is the penalties, in which they can't afford to give away free yards to the Chanticleers. They rank 109th in penalties nationally and 107th in penalty yards per game, and if they can improve on those numbers, the discipline might carry over into all aspects of Saturday's game.
Buffalo made waves over the last few seasons for their dominant rushing attack that saw two backs combine for over 1,700 yards and 26 touchdowns. Unfortunately, the changes on the offensive line and some changes in the backfield itself, have blended itself to some growing pains early. The Bulls rank 32nd in the country in rushing yards per game but only 112th in rushing attempts per game. A more heavy focus on the running game should allow the Bulls to have a chance at dominating the time of possession game, which can be a huge factor in this game. Kyle Vantrease is the leader at quarterbacks and has had a little more freedom than previous seasons, tossing for 227.5 yards per game but only one touchdown thus far. Kevin Marks Jr. is the focal point of the offense after last year's successful campaign. He's averaging 78.50 yards per game but should get a heavy workload on Saturday. Expect a heavy dose of the running game to try to take keep the Chanticleer offense on the sidelines but the Bulls could be in for a surprise with the team speed on the other side.
Defensively, Buffalo ranks 43rd nationally in points allowed per game but after allowing 28 to Nebraska last week, will have their hands full slowing down Coastal Carolina. Buffalo did have arguably the MAC's best defense last season but they also failed to see anything as potent as what they'll see on Saturday. They do bring back a wealth of experience though from last year, including their top two linebackers and a host f secondary contributors. James Patterson already leads the way with 17 tackles, while Taylor Riggins has added two sacks. The Bulls' defense has the experience but it might not have the athleticism, to keep up with what Coastal Carolina is capable of doing on offense.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Coastal Carolina has made it look easy through the first two weeks of the season, even taking down a Power 5 team in Kansas down with ease, regardless of how poor Kansas has been of late. On the other side, Buffalo is still somewhat of an unknown. Between a new coach, a more pass-oriented offense, and losing one of the best running backs in America from last season, the jury is still out on if Buffalo can replicate their success from last season. The win over Wagner in the opener didn't show much, and last week's loss was somewhat of a disappointment to at least not keep the game close. The penalty yards are a huge concern for Buffalo, especially considering that Coastal Carolina is one of the least penalized teams in the country. Those yards will quickly add up and if Buffalo isn't careful, they'll only continue to shoot themselves in the foot. In the end, though, Coastal Carolina's offensive balance will be the difference. They have the ability to control the clock on the ground but also have the athleticism at quarterback and on the outside, to make teams pay through the air. Buffalo doesn't have enough weapons to keep up the scoring at the rate the Chanticleers will set the game at. Add in the speed that Coastal Carolina has on the defensive side and this likely has the making of what should be, Buffalo's toughest game of the season.
Full-Game Total Pick
Coastal Carolina enters this game averaging 50.50 points on their own, while Buffalo isn't too far behind at 36 points per game. While both those numbers should take a small step back given the quality on the field on Saturday, points will not be a problem. The Chanticleers have one of the most balanced attacks in football and will have their way on offense on nearly every possession. For Buffalo, a heavy ground game will work to get them moving at pace as well. In the four games that these two teams have played combined this season, at least 58 points have been scored in three of them. In Buffalo's seven games last season, at least 58 points were scored five times. In Coastal Carolina's 12 games in 2020, at least 58 points were scored seven times. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Coastal Carolina, the over is 4-0 in their last four games overall, is 6-0 in their last six games as a favorite, is 16-2 in their last 18 games in September, and is 7-1 in their last eight non-conference games.