Buffalo vs. Ohio State: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More

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Buffalo vs. Ohio State: TV Info, Spread, Injury Updates, Game Time and More
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State Buckeyes will look to stay undefeated in the Urban Meyer era on Saturday when the Buffalo Bulls visit Columbus. 

Ranked as the No. 2 team in the nation to start the year in both the USA Today coaches poll and AP Top 25 poll, the Buckeyes are expected to contend for the national championship this season after being ineligible to do so in 2012. 

As noted by ESPN's Stats & Info, history certainly sides with Meyer's team accomplishing something close to that task:

The first obstacle toward that end game is Buffalo, which finished 4-8 in head coach Jeff Quinn's third season with the MAC program.

Quinn has increased the program win total by one each of the last two seasons after a disastrous start in 2010 (2-10), but needs to continue to trend upward to avoid landing on the hot seat. 

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of the outcome, Buffalo will be taking home a nice sum from Ohio State to cover their travel expenses (and more) during Week 1. The AP Top 25 Twitter account had that scoop earlier this month:

Although the Buckeyes are expected to dominate the Bulls on Saturday, nothing is ever taken for granted in college football. In preparation for one of the games that will get the new college football season going, check out our preview as Buffalo prepares to tangle with Ohio State. 

Photo via David Wilkerson (@David10TV) on Twitter.

 

When: Saturday, Aug. 31, at Noon ET

Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

Watch: ESPN2

Streaming: WatchESPN

Spread: Ohio State (-34.5), according to Covers.com

 

Injury Report (via USA Today)

Buffalo 

OL Trevor Sales - Knee - Probable

WR Fred Lee - Ankle - Probable

OL Dillon Guy - Foot - Probable

WR Cordero Dixon - Head - Probable

DB James Chambers - Arm - Probable

FB Boomer Brock - Knee - Doubtful

RB Jordan Johnson - Elbow - Out for Season 

 

Ohio State 

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
RB Carlos Hyde will miss Ohio State's opener

LB Curtis Grant - Concussion - Questionable

DL Tommy Schutt - Foot - Out Indefinitely

TE Blake Thomas - Neck - Out for Season

RB Rod Smith - Suspension - Out

CB Adam Griffin - Shoulder - Out for Season

DB Jamie Wood - Shoulder - Out for Season

CB Bradley Roby - Suspension - Out

TE Marcus Baugh - Suspension - Out

RB Carlos Hyde - Suspension - Out

 

Buffalo Player to Watch: QB Joe Licata

Licata took over for Alex Zordich toward the end of the 2012-13 season, and success quickly followed for the Bulls. 

The sophomore QB ripped off three straight wins over Miami (Ohio), Western Michigan and Massachusetts in his first three starts of the year; three of Buffalo's four wins in 2012 are connected to Licata as the starter. 

As you can see in this tweet from Joey Kaufman of The Columbus Dispatch, Licata put up solid numbers as a freshman when he took over for Zordich:

Quinn named the New York native his starter coming out of spring practice, and if Buffalo wants to remain competitive against Ohio State throughout the course of the game, Licata needs to shine in his first 2013 start. 

As noted by MAC spokesman Ken Mather, the Bulls believe in their young signal-caller:

Returning nine starters on offense, Buffalo is actually a fairly experienced team. All of their starters on the post-spring depth chart are either juniors or seniors with the exception of Licata and wideout Marcus McGill

Top running back Branden Oliver and top receiver Alex Neutz are big time weapons for Buffalo, and Licata will have a solid group of skill players to distribute the ball to against Ohio State. 

In true trial by fire fashion, Buffalo will get a chance to see how far their young QB has progressed over the past nine months when he takes the field against Ohio State—easily the most prestigious opponent Licata will have faced to date. 

Talk about a tough test. 

 

Ohio State Player to Watch: QB Braxton Miller

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Miller is an early-season Heisman candidate, a designation that makes games against non-conference opponents like Buffalo vitally important.

College football players win the Heisman with big plays over big time opponents, but not playing to the level of one's competition is also something those who have hoisted the trophy have avoided.

Expect Miller to have a big game with his arm and his feet on Saturday.

A threat to score via both the read-option or the long pass, Miller blossomed under Meyer in 2012. He threw for 2,039 yards in the air and added another 1,271 on the ground en route to 28 total touchdowns.

Returning starters Corey Brown and Devin Smith give Miller two playmaking targets on the outside, and the QB will be instrumental in establishing the run while setting his offense up for an aerial attack at various points in the game.

For Ohio State to win a national championship, more players will have to step up than just the team's starting QB. In Week 1, though, Miller can set a precedence of success his teammates will follow all year. 

 

Key Matchup: Ohio State Offensive Line vs. Buffalo Front Seven

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Even without top running back Carlos Hyde, who was suspended for the first three games of the season, we can expect the Ohio State offense to prioritize running the ball well. 

The Buckeyes were 10th in the nation in rushing yards per game last year, recording 242.3 yards a contest in non-conference and Big Ten action. 

How many points will Ohio State score on Saturday?

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Between Miller, backup-turned-starter Jordan Hall and whomever else Meyer sees fit to run the ball against Buffalo, we can expect the Ohio State offense to lean heavily on the run to set up the pass. 

That makes the trenches vitally important for both sides. 

If the Buffalo front seven is creating pressure and forcing Ohio State to alter its game plan, the Shoe could be very quiet over the first two quarters. For Buffalo to have any chance of keeping pace with Ohio State through halftime, the front seven must create pressure and disrupt Meyer's offensive scheme. 

 

Prediction

Ohio State is expected to do big things this year. 

Coming off an undefeated season, given big billing for the upcoming campaign and featuring a Heisman candidate on offense, Buckeyes fans everywhere are considering 2013 a BCS title-or-bust season. 

Buffalo is the first obstacle to that end game. 

The Bulls have a chance to improve under Quinn for the third straight season, but they will be outmatched by the Buckeyes on both sides of the ball and struggle to maintain consistent effort for four quarters. 

On Sunday morning, Ohio State will still be undefeated under Meyer. 

Ohio State 41, Buffalo 13

 

Follow B/R's Ethan Grant on Twitter. 

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