Buffalo and Ohio State don't have an awful lot in common, at least not on paper. Head coach Urban Meyer faced the Bulls but once as the head coach at Bowling Green in his tenure in the northwest corner of the state. The two met again in Urban Meyer's would be final game as Florida's coach, in an absolute trouncing of then unbeaten Cincinnati.
Since then, Jeff Quinn's struggled to get the Bulls up to the standards left by Turner Gill before him. While the program's baby steps back to going bowling were rewarded with what some think was a premature contract extension for Quinn this offseason, Ohio State finds themselves in a situation with far loftier ambitions. Can Ohio State meet their admittedly high standards for 2013? Or can Buffalo unravel them in a single early afternoon?
To help sort this out, we brought in Conrad Mostiller, bull_trojan, from Bull Run. You can follow Conrad on Twitter @conradmostiller
We're all familiar with Khalil Mack by this point. Give us a more under-the-radar type sleeper that could make a huge play against the Buckeyes Saturday.
Cal went to the Shoe last year and their backs Bigelow and Sofele put up 246 yards on 25 carries. Branden "BO" Oliver is known for breaking big plays for UB. Despite being injured for most of last year, he will most likely become UB's all-time leading rusher by the end of the year. In his four healthiest games last year, he gained 649 yards on 11 carries, including 111 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown at Georgia.
Lower under-the-radar CB Najja Johnson led the MAC with 5 ints last year, but his counterpart on the other side CB Cortney Lester was right behind him with 4 INTs. Braxton will need to be smart and accurate on Saturday.
What are UB's reasonable expectations for this year? With Jeff Quinn having just gotten a contract extension, is the pressure off if the Bulls don't wind up going bowling?
No! First of all, the extension still hasn't been signed; it's weird, and I have never seen anything like that before. Secondly, exactly zero UB fans were happy that he "earned" an extension. Thirdly, UB loses a lot of talent after this year. 2013 is bowl or bust.
Turner Gill was able to get Buffalo to a level of success they hadn't seen in a very long time. After he left, Quinn hasn't been able to keep that momentum going. What's been his biggest obstacle to turning things around?
Finding a quarterback. The last time UB had a QB start consecutive opening days was Drew Willy in 2008. Gill had his QB of the future, Zach Maynard, (who didn't set the world on fire at Cal, but was good enough to win the starting job at a Pac-12 school his first eligible year there, so imagine what he could have done in the MAC) but Maynard left shortly after the Quinn hire. Joe Licata brings stability under center not seen since the MAC championship year.
What's the UB fanbase's stance on the branding decision to emphasize New York/the SUNY elements of the school's name in the athletic gear?
Mostly negative. New York is associated mainly with New York City and that rubs a lot of Buffalonians the wrong way. There is a sense that the athletic department is disrespecting the city. Others appreciate the effort, but hate the execution. I think it will be a good chance to change the culture of college sports in New York State by focusing less on the city of Buffalo and more on the State of New York.
Give us the down low on those crazy mullets.
I didn't even know that was a thing, but something like that happens every camp, and they clean up around opening week when the girls return to campus. I focus on the guys who have unique fashion choices that outlast summer camp, my favorite is Ryan Paxson, who is pretty committed to the fancy moustache year round.
We hear UB is in the AAU. Give us a pitch on why you should be the next members of the Big Ten.
Between November 17th 2001 (during UB's third year in D-1A) and October 18th, 2003, UB went 1-20. During that time UB went 0-2 against D-1AA teams (losses vs Lehigh and Colgate) but they beat Rutgers, 34-11 in Piscataway on September 7, 2002. You let Rutgers in, you might as well take us, too.
Finally, despite most outlets having the Bulls projected to be a bowl team, Ohio State finds themselves more than 5 TD favorites. Are those lines unfair? How do you see this one playing out?
Last year Ohio State struggled early against UCF, Cal and UAB. Last year UB went to Georgia as 38-point underdogs and covered with a 22-point loss. That said, OSU is the #2 team in the country, at home, and riding a twelve game winning streak, 35 points seems fair. I expect the game to be closer, maybe in the 17-point Ohio State-win range.