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OTB Staff Predictions: Buffalo At Rutgers

Find out how much confidence our staff has in Chris Ash’s team as they take on one of the best teams out of the MAC

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start off by saying none of us saw the Kansas defeat coming, let alone in the manner in which it happened. We’ve discussed what is the worst loss of the Ash era at length this week and now it’s time to move forward. Saturday’s game against an undefeated Buffalo team is a tremendous opportunity for Rutgers to bounce back after two lackluster performances in a row. It won’t be easy, as the Bulls have potentially five NFL players on the roster, a dynamic offense, and an aggressive defense. Can Rutgers pull the upset (+6 underdogs as of noon on 9/21) in front of the home faithful? Our resilient staff got together to give our honest takes on what we expect to unfold in Piscataway.

Cara Sanfilippo: Honestly, I am feeling really negative right now. I’m annoyed with Ash. I’m annoyed that as a diehard fan, I would never not attend a home game or support my team. But I go into this weekend not at all excited to see the outcome of this game. This has not happened in a long time. I have always been cautiously optimistic, but the current predictions have Rutgers at +6 at home. The home team gets 3 points just for being at home. The talent of the Buffalo team, the announcement that Bless Austin is probably out for the season, the situation at quarterback, the seeming dissent of the veteran players and the lack of accountability by Ash has me dreading the outcome of Saturday. For the first time in his career, I worry Ash is not the guy for the job and this season will go downhill. Prove me wrong, Ash. I will still be there Saturday cheering on these kids because they deserve it. I hope other fans will be as well. But I cannot predict a win. Buffalo 36, Rutgers 17

Nick Kosko: I’ve been pretty bad with “bold” predictions this season. I was an optimist after last season, after Artur Sitkowski was named starting QB, and of course after just looking at the schedule for 2018. I cannot be that person anymore. We pretty much all thought Rutgers could go on the road and take out Kansas, they did not. The fact remains, this Buffalo team is better than Kansas and it does not bode well for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights could very well win at home, get to 2-2 and try and salvage the season. I just don’t see it. Rutgers seems to struggle with star players and Buffalo has at least one on offense: Anthony Johnson. The wide receiver caught 76 balls for 1356 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2017 and already has 16 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns this season. Simply put, he’s a beast. Without Blessuan Austin covering him, I am worried. That alone warrants big play potential for the Bulls and for Rutgers to play catchup.

Sure, Buffalo has given up nearly 30 points per game in the last two but aside from beating Texas State, Rutgers has scored 10 offensive points. Not good. Sitkowski may very well be the answer at quarterback (I believe he is) but he has not played well in any regard, particularly the last two weeks. Without any aide from the wide receivers, there’s not much he can do even when protected. There’s just too much going against the team at the moment that it does not feel like a good weekend. I’m not holding out hope about the attendance either. I wouldn’t be shocked at a more competitive game considering the Scarlet Knights need something positive, but it could get ugly at some point. Buffalo 31 Rutgers 10

Patrick Mella: Prior to the season many fans couldn’t fathom Rutgers being underdogs at home versus Buffalo but this is where we’re at folks. The confidence meter is at zero. We have an offense that struggles to put up points and a lackluster defense that plays with almost no intensity at all. That my friends, is a bad combo. The reality is that there’s a real possibility that Rutgers loses this game. I still don’t believe they’re as bad of a team as we saw last week, but they’ll be facing a Buffalo team this week that is arguably better than Kansas. I’m not sure if losing to Buffalo would be considered “rock bottom” or if that is the current state we’re in. But I’d like to think and hope that this team has some shred of pride left for not only themselves but for their teammates, coaches and the entire Rutgers fan base. A loss to Buffalo would be the latest installment of embarrassing losses but again, this where we’re at. Buffalo 28, Rutgers 14

Dave White: Is this the biggest game of Chris Ash’s tenure? Yes and no. I mean, it’s the biggest because if he loses it... perception wise it will be really, really hard to recover from it. The fans, who are already revolting, will not be back. It will be tough. But if he wins it, does it really erase the Kansas loss? Buffalo is one of those games, while tough, a Big Ten team should win. Just like the Kansas game. For Ash to really recover, he will have to win the games he was “supposed to win” from here on out and probably pull an upset.. say Penn State or Michigan State. If Rutgers wins, this game has to be just the beginning. If he loses, it will continue a long slog toward the end of a miserable season. After last week, and some of the drama that’s come up because of it, I think it’s hard for Rutgers to recover. Look and see if RU can score first and then follow it up with a 3 and out of Buffalo. That will be a sign. But, I’m not sure--at this point--that I can expect it. Buffalo 36 Rutgers 21

David Anderson: The Rutgers offense scored 7 points last week and the special teams had the other half of the point total. I do expect Rutgers to score more points than last week and look somewhat cohesive, but it’s hard to fathom that number all of a sudden cracking 30, the minimum number to win against a competent opponent. The Rutgers defense will be better than they were a week ago, but Buffalo can throw the ball WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY better than Kansas, so the Bulls will put up at least 30 barring injury to a top player or some lucky bounces. Rutgers could win this game, I have been laughed at even mentioning that this week, because they aren’t facing an unbeatable opponent. It will take a lot of progress being made on gameday compared to the last two weeks though, and it’s hard to win your first “semi-close” game all season when the real pressure is on. Buffalo 31 Rutgers 20

Jim Hoffman: This was listed as a “trap” game earlier in the season by most who looked at the Rutgers football schedule. After three games under their belt, you are looking at two teams going different directions. Buffalo is currently 3-0, and their biggest win comes at the expense of the Temple Owls, who beat Maryland last week. Rutgers is 1-2, and their measuring stick includes a loss to Kansas that has fired up the Rutgers faithful, but not in the way the coaches would have hoped. If Rutgers does not win tomorrow, there is a real chance they will not win another in 2018. With that said, and me being the eternal optimist, I think Rutgers will squeak through with a small victory tomorrow, and surprise everyone. Rutgers 24 Buffalo 21

Namrita Singh: This is a game that I assumed Rutgers was guaranteed to win before the season began but now I’m not sure. Don’t really have any confidence in the team right now and this isn’t a game that I see them easily winning. Or maybe winning at all. I want to call this a must-win game because the loss to Kansas stings. A lot. But I don’t think they will. This could be the most important game for Chris Ash in his tenure as head coach because if they win, great. We’re back at .500 and the season hasn’t totally gone down the drain yet and there’s something to build on for the rest of the season but if they lose... well, I think we’d all prefer the site to be kept PG. I think the Scarlet Knights go down early and can’t find a way to recover. There will be glimpses of hope and then they will be snatched away from us. Just like always. Buffalo 31, Rutgers 21

Aaron Breitman: I predicted Buffalo to win this game before the season even started and Rutgers has given me zero reason to think differently after suffering arguably the worst loss in program history last week. Whether you think Rutgers will mentally bounce back or not, it doesn’t change the fact this this is actually a bad matchup on paper regarding Buffalo’s strengths. The scary thing is Kansas scored 55 points on Rutgers and Buffalo has a much better offense. I think the pass rush of Buffalo, as well as their offense’s ability to pass protect and attack through the air are areas Rutgers will struggle with. Obviously, the Scarlet Knights roster should have more talent than the visiting Bulls, but that should have been the case against Kansas as well. This is a gut check game for the players, who were lifeless in the second half last week against Kansas. However, until they prove they can play better and be competitive against a competent team, I have little confidence in this group. I really hope they prove me wrong and come up with a potentially season saving victory. I’m just worried that the Kansas loss is a sign of greater problems with this team than we realized. Again, I hope I’m dead wrong and would be thrilled to eat a big bowl of crow next week. Stay thirsty, my friends. Buffalo 45 Rutgers 17

God Bless Jim Hoffman. Were we too pessimistic or do you agree? Sound off in the comment section and give your prediction as well.