Tennessee-Buffalo Game Preview

A weekly look at our upcoming opponent's recent history, with animated drive charts, links to SB Nation game pages, and statistical comparisons. Caveats.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Buffalo has lost three of four games already in the MAC.
  • Just according to the numbers and ignoring everything else, the Bulls appear to be a little worse than average on offense and a little better than average on defense. The offense seems well-balanced, and the defense appears able to do some damage behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Their passing attack is statistically sandwiched right between Florida's and Cincinnati's, so expect about the same result (a bit over 200 yards). They do have trouble converting yards into points, however.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 38, Buffalo 13.

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

 

Buffalo Logo

@ Pittsburgh Panthers 9/3/11 loss 16 - 35 coverage
Stony Brook Seawolves 9/10/11 win 35 - 7 coverage
@ Ball St. Cardinals 9/17/11 loss 25 - 28 coverage
Connecticut Huskies 9/24/11 loss 3 - 17 coverage

Tennessee Logo

Montana Grizzlies 9/3/11 win 42 - 16 coverage
Cincinnati Bearcats 9/10/11 win 45 - 23 coverage
@ Florida Gators 9/17/11 loss 23 - 33 coverage

Hoo, boy. That's not a very impressive resume. Let's not add to the Bulls' win column, mmkay?

We're missing drive chart daa for this week, so here's a look at Buffalo's drive chart against Ball State:

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.

Excitement! Heartbreak! College football.

National Unit Rankings

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
MAC Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 61 148.75 Air Force 411.67 7 Eastern Mich. 234.25
Passing Offense 77 205.50 Houston 446.25 8 Bowling Green 303.75
Total Offense 86 354.25 Georgia Tech 630.50 8 Bowling Green 468.50
Scoring Offense 102 19.75 Georgia Tech 53.25 8 Bowling Green 38.50
Passing Efficiency 96 114.76 Georgia Tech 283.59 8 Northern Ill. 171.28
Sacks Allowed T-58 1.75 Oregon .25 5 Northern Ill. .75

Offensive observations. Well, they don't score and can't pass, and they do nothing better than average. We have our issues, too, you know, so I'm not insulting. Just saying.

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
MAC Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 79 166.00 Stanford 36.00 8 Temple 75.25
Pass Efficiency Defense 84 134.90 UCF 73.36 8 Temple 96.09
Total Defense 53 350.25 Michigan St. 172.25 8 Temple 273.00
Scoring Defense 45 21.75 Temple 7.75 6 Temple 7.75
Pass Defense 27 184.25 Michigan St. 101.00 4 Western Mich. 147.33
Sacks T-48 2.00 Texas A&M 4.67 5 Temple 3.75
Tackles For Loss 34 6.75 Stanford 10.33 4 Miami (OH) 8.00

Defensive observations. That's a pretty good pass defense, and with the exception of pass efficiency defense and rushing defense, they're better than average at most things on this side of the ball. Tackles for loss is a bit troubling, because when we've run the ball so far this season, we're not likely to gain many yards anyway. Hopefully, that will change this weekend.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
MAC Leader Actual
Net Punting 86 35.48 Bowling Green 45.29 8 Bowling Green 45.29
Punt Returns 64 7.45 Ole Miss 31.71 9 Toledo 18.40
Kickoff Returns 70 21.07 Nebraska 35.36 7 Temple 35.00
Turnover Margin T-46 .25 Cincinnati 3.50 4 Kent St. 1.00

Special teams and turnovers observations. Mmm. A whole bunch of "eh" there.

Players to Watch

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
OFFENSE
Rushing Branden Oliver 18 110.50
Chazz Anderson 31.00
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Chazz Anderson 98 110.97
Total Offense Chazz Anderson 56 226.50
Branden Oliver 110.50
Receptions Per Game Marcus Rivers T-29 6.50
Alex Neutz T-52 5.50
Receiving Yards Per Game Alex Neutz 58 73.25
Marcus Rivers T-76 67.25
Scoring Branden Oliver T-89 7.50

Offensive Observations. That's actually a pretty well-balanced attack. Senior QB Chazz Anderson ranks nationally in passing efficiency and total offense, and adds a few yards on the ground to boot. Running back Branden Oliver ranks well nationally and averages over 100 yards per game. And Buffalo has two receivers -- Marcus Rivers and Alex Neutz -- who rank in the top 60 nationally. So . . . four guys and a good deal of balance between the four. Potency may be another question entirely, but balance!

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
DEFENSE
Interceptions Khalil Mack .25
Sacks Khalil Mack T-33 .75
Colby Way T-92 .50
Gordon DuBois T-92 .50
Tackles Lee Skinner T-96 7.75
Fred Branch T-96 7.75
Khalil Mack T-96 7.75
Tackles For Loss Khalil Mack 2 2.25
Colby Way 1.00
Gordon DuBois .88

Defense. Watch out for sophomore linebacker Khalil Mack, who shows up in every category up there. They also have two other guys -- Colby Way and Gordon DuBois (whose name makes it sound like he should be dealing in stocks instead of sacks) -- who are all up in your backfield. After that, Lee Skinner and Fred Branch are cleaning up the rest of the mess.

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
SPECIAL TEAMS
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Jacob Schum 39 41.20
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Terrell Jackson 36 7.40
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Terrell Jackson 64 22.83
Field Goals Peter Fardon T-89 .50
All-Purpose Runners Branden Oliver T-73 121.00
Terrell Jackson 98.75
Alex Neutz 73.25

Special teams. Not too bad on punting and punt returns, but like I said before, there's a whole lotta "eh" in there, too.

Head to Head Comparisons

  Tennessee Logo Buffalo Logo
Comps
Result Against Comps
Prediction
UT rush v. Buffalo rush defense 81.67
(#112)
166
(#79)
Cincinnati
(89.25)
(#22)
126 145
UT pass v. Buffalo pass defense 334.67
(#10)
184.25
(#27)
Florida
(175.25)
(#20)
288 280
Buffalo rush v. UT rush defense 137
(#59)
148.75
(#61)
Cincinnati
(239.25)
(#16)
166 110
Buffalo pass v. UT pass defense 226
(#69)
205.50
(#77)
Florida/Cincinnati
(202.75/211.25)
(#79/74)
213/230 220
UT scoring offense v. Buffalo scoring defense 36.67
(#30)
21.75
(#45)
Cincinnati
(20.75)
(#39)
45 38
Buffalo scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 24
(#62)
19.75
(#102)
Florida
(40.25)
(#15)
33 13

As always, these are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations, and the general analytical framework is this: We are averaging X in a certain category. The opponent averages Y against that, which is most closely comparable to some identified previous opponent, against whom we did Z. All of that leads to an informed guess labeled as Prediction. The less data you have, the more sketchy the guess, and the guesses range from ALL CAPS SKETCHY WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS at the beginning of the season to merely lower case sketchy for the last game.

This week's example: On average, we're holding passing attacks to 226 yards per game. Buffalo is getting 205.50 yards per game through the air, which puts them right smack dab in the middle of former opponents Florida and Cincinnati, whom we held to 213 and 230 yards respectively. So, according to the limited data anyway, Buffalo's passing attack is about the same as Florida's and Cincinnati's, so expect them to do about as well and come away with about 220 yards.

It seems that Buffalo is worse at scoring than it is at moving the ball. Still, those Cincinnati numbers have to be discounted because of the Justin Hunter injury. In all, though, this should be a fairly comfortable win for the Vols. I hope.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Buffalo has lost three of four games already in the MAC.
  • Just according to the numbers and ignoring everything else, the Bulls appear to be a little worse than average on offense and a little better than average on defense. The offense seems well-balanced, and the defense appears able to do some damage behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Their passing attack is statistically sandwiched right between Florida's and Cincinnati's, so expect about the same result (a bit over 200 yards). They do have trouble converting yards into points, however.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 38, Buffalo 13.
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