After two different three-game losing skids, Buffalo hopes to play a bit more consistently in 2023.
The Bulls began last season by losing three straight. Then they won five consecutive games including a victory over Toledo, the eventual MAC champion.
Then another three-game losing streak. But that all led to Buffalo beating Akron in its regular season finale and Georgia Southern in the Camellia Bowl.
Will the Bulls go through another season just as turbulent? Or could they improve on their 7-6 record from a year ago?
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Buffalo Football’s MAC Title Odds
Buffalo’s odds to win the MAC are +700, via BetMGM.
Buffalo Football’s Over/Under Win Total
Buffalo’s win total Over/Under is 6.5, with Under 6.5 at -125 and Over 6.5 at +115.
Buffalo Football’s Schedule
9/2 at Wisconsin
9/9 vs Fordham
9/16 vs Liberty
9/23 at Louisiana
9/30 at Akron
10/7 vs Central Michigan
10/14 vs Bowling Green
10/21 at Kent State
10/31 at Toledo
11/7 vs Ohio
11/15 at Miami (Ohio)
11/21 vs Eastern Michigan
Bold indicates MAC contests.
Key Buffalo Football Returners
2022 All-MAC 1st Team
K Alex McNulty
LB Shaun Dolac
DB Marcus Fuqua
OL Gabe Wallace
Cole Snyder Aiming To Lead Buffalo’s Offense To Success
Buffalo quarterback Cole Snyder is one of the top players at the position in the MAC. His presence makes a difference for the rest of the Bulls’ offense, which ranked in the top five in the MAC in points per game (28.5) and yards per game (377.2) in 2022.
The 6-foot-2, 208-pound fifth-year passer threw for 3,030 yards, which was second in the MAC, and 18 touchdowns with eight interceptions as he completed 59% of his throws. He became just the third Buffalo quarterback to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a single season.
The Bulls were worse running the ball, ranking seventh in the conference with 141.8 rushing yards per game, but they could take a step forward in that area. They return Mike Washington and Ron Cook Jr., two backs who each rushed for at least 600 yards and four touchdowns in 2022.
Three of Buffalo’s five primary starters on its offensive line are back. That includes 6-6, 337-pound left guard Gabe Wallace, who made the all-conference third team in 2022.
Isaiah Wright, a 6-4, 300-pound junior and former transfer from Rutgers, played primarily at left tackle. Meanwhile, 6-5, 320-pound junior Tyler Doty started the most games at right guard.
Buffalo’s receiving corps is uncertain, however. The team’s top three receivers, including Justin Marshall who totaled 837 yards and nine touchdowns on 64 receptions last year, are gone.
However, the Bulls addressed this in the transfer portal by adding Darrell Harding Jr. from Duke and Chance Morrow from Louisville. Buffalo hopes those two, as well as other emerging pass catchers, will help the team’s passing attack jell.
Alex McNulty, a first-team All-MAC kicker in 2022, should also help Buffalo maximize drives.
Marcus Fuqua, Shaun Dolac Returning Standouts For Buffalo’s Defense
The Bulls allowed the fourth-fewest points per game (26.7) and the sixth-fewest yards per game (395.5). They weren’t awful on that side of the ball, but they also have some improvements to make.
They do have two all-conference first-team players on the roster already. Linebacker Shaun Dolac ranked first in the MAC with 147 total tackles to go with 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, while safety Marcus Fuqua had a league-best seven interceptions last season.
Buffalo, which totaled the second-fewest sacks (24) and had the fifth-worst red zone defense in the conference a season ago, returns five of its top nine tacklers. Some promising players are back for this team, however, which will be important.
That includes defensive tackle Daymond Williams. The graduate student tied for the team lead with 4.5 sacks.
Former Notre Dame transfer Caleb Offord is also returning. The senior cornerback tied for a team-best with eight pass breakups in 2022.
Buffalo also emphasized its secondary in the transfer portal. The program added defensive backs D’Andre Greeley from Colorado State, Demetrius Harris from Cornell, and Amonte Strothers from Delaware.
Buffalo Football Season Prediction
Buffalo won’t win the MAC in 2022, as winning more than six games with its schedule will be tough.
Buffalo’s non-conference schedule has a couple toss-ups, including Liberty at home on Sept. 16 and at Louisiana the following week. If the Bulls even split those contests, that could be huge.
There’s a possibility Buffalo begins the year 6-2, but its final stretch of the season is brutal. The Bulls play Toledo and Miami (Ohio) on the road and Ohio and Eastern Michigan at home in their final four games. Each of those teams are in the top five for MAC Championship odds, along with Buffalo. Luckily the Bulls have a bye week before those last four matchups, so maybe they can prepare properly and earn a couple victories.
If they do, they could be over 6.5 wins and finish the year with a winning record. If they don’t, they would probably end up below .500 and would experience a similar season to 2022 in which they win multiple games consecutively and then lose a few games in a row.
The Bulls have some talent on both sides of the ball but aren’t necessarily loaded either, so either scenario is possible. That’s why I think 6-6 is the most likely middle-ground outcome for the 2023 Bulls.