(Sports Network) - Connecticut will try to bounce back from its recent losing skid when the Huskies travel to Buffalo to take on the Bulls this Saturday at UB Stadium.
The Huskies opened the season with a convincing, 35-3 decision over Fordham. However, since then the team has lost two close matchups. The first loss came against Vanderbilt, as the Commodores scored 10 straight fourth-quarter points to upend UConn. That was followed by another fourth-quarter let down against Iowa State, resulting in a 24-20 loss.
Much like the Huskies the Bulls suffered a similar defeat in their last game, as they allowed a late touchdown, giving them their second setback on the year. Buffalo opened its campaign with a 35-16 loss to Pittsburgh, but followed that with a 35-7 decision over Stony Brook.
Buffalo has won four meetings against UConn, but those wins have come in 18 matchups. The Huskies have clearly dominated the all-time series, including UConn's 45-21 decision last year at home.
It is clear that coach Paul Pasqualoni has plenty of problems offensively, and a clear indication of that is UConn's 1-2 ledger. The reason for the offensive woes is lack of consistency under center.
Through three games, three different players have thrown a pass and the team's starter Johnny McEntee has completed well under 50.0 percent of his throws and has not tossed a touchdown, but has thrown four interceptions.
The only two touchdown passes for UConn have come from redshirt freshman Scott McCummings, but those two touchdowns are his only two completions on the season.
Lyle McCombs has given the Huskies some stability by rushing for 305 yards and four touchdowns thus far, but in the loss to Iowa State he was held to just 46 yards on 18 carries. The team as a whole struggled in the setback, racking up only 112 yards on 2.7 yards per attempt.
Clearly the passing attack is not where it needs to be for the Huskies to be competitive, so more pressure will rest on the shoulders of the ground game, which does not have enough talent to control a contest.
The lack of success offensively has taken away from the defense, which has done its best to keep the Huskies in each game. So far this unit is holding opponents to only 17.0 ppg.
The secondary has done a terrific job limiting opponents through the air and in three games teams have averaged just 176.7 ypg and have only three touchdowns against six interceptions. Jory Johnson, who is leading the team with 29 tackles, has two of those interceptions, but the secondary is only half of the story for coach Pasqualoni's defense.
The front seven have also done an outstanding job stopping the run, holding teams to under 80 yards per game. Linebacker Sio Moore has 3.5 of the team's 10 sacks. Expect more of the same from this defense on Saturday, as this unit tries to pick up for an offense that does not possess much firepower.
Just Pasqualoni, coach Jeff Quinn has an offense riding solely on the success of the ground game. Branden Oliver has been a horse for the Bulls thus far, rushing for 358 yards and five touchdowns. In the team's recent loss to Ball State, the tailback rushed for 118 yards and one score.
Quarterback Chazz Anderson added 59 yards and one touchdown as well on the ground, but he was not overly impressive with his arm. The signal caller threw for just 149 yards and one touchdown, but inconsistency has plagued him this season.
In three games Anderson has thrown for only 589 yards and has only three touchdowns against two interceptions. Anderson has made minor strides, but until he can be more consistent the strength of the offense will come from Oliver and the backfield.
Where these two opponents differ is on the defensive side of the football. The defense for UConn has played well enough to keep the team in matchups, while Buffalo's defense has been abused. The Bulls' main problem has come against the run, as team's are gashing Buffalo for nearly 200.0 yards per game.
In the loss to Ball State the Bulls were punished for 174 rushing yards, but also allowed 226 yards through the air. Also the game winning score for Ball State was on a pass, so even the secondary has endured problems on the season, but the only reason the backfield has not been overly abused is because opponents are finding so much success on the ground.
UConn has enjoyed minor success offensively, but that success has come via the run, so the Bulls could be in for another long game unless they somehow figure out a way to plug up the holes.
Even if Buffalo puts forth a better effort defensively, the team is not likely to find much success on offense. The Huskies have been outstanding defensively and should continue that trend Saturday. It won't be pretty, but look for UConn to claim the victory.
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 24th, 6:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UB Stadium (29,013) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: ESPN GP, SNY, ESPN3.com. Home Record: UConn 1-1, Buffalo 1-0. Away Record: UConn 0-0, Buffalo 0-2. Neutral Record: UConn 0-0, Buffalo 0-0. Conference Record: UConn 0-0, Buffalo 0-1. Series Record: Connecticut leads, 14-4.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 24, Buffalo 9.