Preview: CMU looks for third-straight win against Buffalo

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jase Bauer, 8, scores a touchdown during a game against Eastern Michigan, Saturday, Sept. 30 in Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Bauer was CMU's player of the game with 218 passing yards and ten rushing yards. (CM-Life | Marie Underwood)

Coming off of two-straight wins, Central Michigan football looks to stay in the win column as it travels to Buffalo for its first road Mid-American Conference game in an environment they haven’t won in since 2014. 

“A lot to clean up going into a place that we haven’t won (at) for a long, long time,” head coach Jim McElwain said. “It’s going to be two teams that are sitting at 1-0 in their divisions, so huge game for us, you know, and for them as well.”

The Chippewas have dominated the all-time series, going 8-3 overall. This will be the third time in almost 10 years that CMU will travel to Buffalo to face off against the Bulls. 

Last week in its MAC opener, CMU was looking for revenge as it defeated Eastern Michigan in the final seconds to get its first conference win. With the win, the Chippewas improved to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in Mid-American Conference play. 

One of the bright spots last week was the backfield duo of Myles Bailey and Marion Lukes who combined for a total of 228 yards and have been able to create a spark for the Chippewa offense. 

“I thought there were times both of them really used speed and that's something that we've been emphasizing,” McElwain said. “Marion, what he gives us too on special teams … He’s become a real weapon as well in the kick return game.”

On the defensive end, CMU will be led by junior linebacker Kyle Moretti who is coming off a week that earned him MAC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Currently, Moretti has team-leading 46 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss through five games. 

Meet the opponent 

Buffalo didn’t have the start it wanted, going 0-4 in non-conference play to begin the season however, the Bulls finally found themselves victorious after an overtime thriller win against Akron in their MAC opener last weekend. 

“The preseason is over,” McElwain said. “And for (Buffalo), I’m sure they're not even worried about what happened before. The fact that they're 1-0, they got an opportunity to run the table and go win the conference, so this is a huge game for both teams.” 

Buffalo will rely on quarterback Cole Snyder in its offensive attack, throwing for 1075 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions through five games. 

“We haven't contained any passing attack all year,” McElwain said. “So, I'm sure he's looking at 2000 after this game. You know, our biggest thing is we've got to make him uncomfortable, not just give easy throws and make him earn it.”

Key to victory: Improvement on the defense

While the Chippewas have found themselves victorious the last two weeks, the defense has struggled to cause disruption for the opposing offenses. 

Through five games, CMU has allowed an average of 453.6 yards per game. The Chippewas have especially struggled defending the pass game as they allow an average of 310.8 pass yards per game. 

McElwain said the defense needs to clean up and fix the small mistakes in order to find success against the Bulls. 

“(We need to work on) communication in and out of certain defenses,” McElwain said. “We didn't obviously contain those guys (Eastern) at all,” McElwain said. “I mean, they hit big runs, and our edges were collapsing, we gotta make sure we handle that.” 

If the defense can find a way to stay consistent and limit the mistakes as they take on a strong passing attack, the Chippewas have a good chance to return to Kelly/Shorts undefeated in the MAC. 

The details:

Central Michigan (3-2, 1-0) at Buffalo (1-4, 1-0)

All-time series: Central Michigan 8-3

Time: 2 p.m.

Date: Saturday, Oct. 7

Stadium: UB Stadium

Location: Buffalo, New York