Prediction time: Buffalo

Jeff Monken called Saturday’s road challenge at Buffalo his team’s “biggest game of the year,” on This Week in Army Football Thursday night.

Monken said the game’s importance goes beyond the fact that it’s the next one on Army’s schedule. Army has a bye next week. So, the result of the game, good or bad, will stick with the Black Knights for two weeks.

“I don’t know if we have played a more important game than this one so far this year,” Monken said. “It’s the difference between 3-2 or 2-3. It sounds a lot different and there is a big difference.”

Army, coming off a heartbreaking 28-21 overtime loss at No. 5 Oklahoma, plays its fourth straight undefeated opponent in Buffalo. The Bulls have won seven games in a row and seek their first 5-0 start since 1980.

The Black Knights are a 9-point underdog. The teams have split their last two meetings. Buffalo won 23-20 in overtime at home in 2016. Army prevailed 21-17 at Michie Stadium last season.

Sal Interdonato (Times Herald-Record Army football beat writer): Army 28, Buffalo 24. Army’s recipe for success doesn’t change this week. The offense must consume the clock and keep the Black Knights’ defense fresh against another challenging quarterback. Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman’s game plan has been solid against Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Hawaii’s Cole McDonald and Liberty’s Stephen Buckshot Calvert the last three weeks. Buffalo 6-foot-7 junior Tyree Jackson has the ability to extend plays in the pocket. If Army’s defense gets any sort of pass rush on Jackson and holds up in run game, the Black Knights can be victorious.
Josh Conklin (Sports photographer extraordinaire): Army 24, Buffalo 20

Predictions from across the college football universe

Jerry Palm (CBS Sports): Army +9. Palm picks Army as his upset of the week. Palm says on CBS Sports,  “Army put a serious scare into Oklahoma last week, taking the Sooners to overtime before falling 28-21. Unless you see an offense like Army’s somewhat regularly, they are hard to handle. Even if you keep the score down, its style limits the number of possessions for each team. Buffalo is undefeated and was impressive at Rutgers last week, but were only seven-point victors over each of Temple and Eastern Michigan. I like Army to not just keep it close, but win outright.”

Berry Tramel (The Oklahoman, columnist): Army 27, Buffalo 24. Tramel says on, “Wow. Army goes to Norman, losses 28-21 in overtime and still is an 8.5-point underdog to the Bulls.”

Pete Fiutak (College Football News): Buffalo 30, Army 21. Fiutak says on College Football News, “After coming so dangerously close to pulling off the win over Oklahoma, can Army stop the amazing start for Buffalo? The UB run defense has been terrific, keeping everyone under 200 yards and allowing just 3.5 yards per carry. The Army secondary hasn’t been a plus, and there’s little pass rush to bother Tyree Jackson and throw him off of his game. He can bomb away, and there can be balance, this week it’ll be about controlling the ball, too. Sometimes, the less offensive explosion against Army, the better. Great at getting into the backfield, the UB defensive front will attack the Army ground game throughout, but can it hold up? The Knights were able to rumble for close to 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns over the last three games, but Buffalo can run a little, too. This will be a controlled, strong all-around effort from the underappreciated Bulls. The blowout win over Rutgers was no fluke.”

Bill Connelly (SB Nation): Buffalo 41, Army 24

Mitch Light (Athlon Sports): Buffalo 30, Army 20. Light writes on Athlon Sports web site, “Buffalo is emerging as the team to beat in the MAC. The Bulls are 4–0 overall (with wins at Temple and at Rutgers) and 1–0 in league play (with a quality win over Eastern Michigan). Army almost shocked the college football world Saturday night before falling in overtime at Oklahoma. This is a really good game between two solid Group of 5 teams.”


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