The defending MAC Champion Buffalo Bulls started last year's title run with a big 42-17 home thrashing of the University of Texas at El Paso Miners in their first ever meeting. Now it is the Miners turn to host the Bulls and there is no doubt that revenge is on the mind of the Miners.
Last August in Buffalo, the Bulls' Drew Willy went 10-16 for 221 yards and four touchdowns while Trevor Vittatoe went 20-37 for 199 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. Bulls' senior running back James Starks ran for 179 yards last year, but is out for the season with a shoulder injury. His replacement this year, Brandon Thermilus ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns in last year's contest. For the Miners, Terrell Jackson was bottled up for only 67 yards on the ground.
This year however, it will be a different story. The Miners are expected to contend for a Conference USA crown and the Bulls will look to stay atop the MAC East. UTEP returns 15 starters from last year's team including eight on the offensive side of the ball. The Bulls however return nine from the defensive side of the ball.
Quarterbacks: EDGE: UTEP The Miners return their starting quarterback who has thrown for 58 touchdowns over a two year span meanwhile the Bulls send out a first time starter.
Running Backs: EDGE: BUFFALO The Miners throw the ball way too much to have an effective ground game and the Bulls ground game ripped up the Miners defense last year.
Wide Receivers: EDGE: BUFFALO This was a hard pick but with Naaman Roosevelt on your team it is hard to go against the Bulls but the Miners do return two of their three top wideouts from last season.
Tight Ends: EDGE: BUFFALO The Bulls combination of seniors Jesse Rack and Kyle Brey will be better than a pass happy team who rarely use their tight ends to catch.
Offensive Line: EDGE: UTEP The Miners return four of their five lineman while the Bulls return two. Familiarity will be a key for the Miners line.
Defensive Line: EDGE: UTEP The Miners start two seniors and a junior in their 3-4 scheme while the Bulls only return two from their 4-3 scheme.
Linebackers: EDGE: BUFFALO The Bulls return all three linebackers, all of whom made big impacts last year while the Miners shuffle out young inexperienced linebackers in the middle.
Secondary: EDGE: BUFFALO The Bulls return the two best safties in the MAC and their secondary also picked off the Miner's junior quarterback three times last August. The Miners do start all seniors in the back but the Bulls just seem to be able to get the big play when needed.
Special Teams: EDGE: BUFFALO Let's just remember that the Bulls caused the UCONN Huskies havoc during last year's International Bowl with their special teams turnovers but the Miners do have a stronger kicker.
Prediction: BUFFALO 28 UTEP 24. The Bulls experience on defense coupled with UTEP's poor run defense should lead to the Bulls walking out of El Paso with a W.
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