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After a mostly miserable season that saw Buffalo lose eight games by double digits, the Bulls have a long way to go for a bowl game even with 16 returning starters. Neither side of the ball was good from the 16.5 points per game scored to the 32.3 points per game allowed. The hope is that sophomore quarterback Tyree Jackson can take a step in his second season, but that’s far from a guarantee.

The best option for this offense is to attack the ground game as the line returns four starters to go with a transfer from Rutgers at left tackle. Johnathan Hawkins (338 yards) takes over as the starting running back and needs to top 1,000 yards like his predecessor. Jackson is also a viable run after going for 399 yards last season. The passing game is another story as Jackson completed 53.1% of his passes for just 9 TDs and 9 INTs in 10 games of work as a freshman. It’d be nice if he can improve as a passer, but with only one returning starter at receiver, it may be tough. Kamathi Holsey (189 yards), Jamarl Eiland (175 yards) and Jacob Martinez (121 yards) will all step into bigger roles at wide out. If the Bulls can get some kind of ground game going, that would be a huge help to the defense that has some pieces that could lead to success.

The defense returns eight starters with leading tackler Khalil Hodge (123) combining with two other experienced linebackers in Jarrett Franklin and Ishmael Hargrove. Those guys will be the reason this group sees any kind of improvement. The secondary, which was solid last year allowing only 181.5 passing yards per game, returns experienced corners and safeties with Cameron Lewis a possible lockdown corner. The line will be the biggest issue after losing multiple players to graduation. Still, the Bulls are full of upperclassmen and experience, so this group should be better overall.

What that means remains to be seen as Buffalo could start the season with a couple losses yet again before favorable games against Colgate and FAU. Buffalo will have chances to grab a couple road wins in MAC play with Kent State and Ball State on the schedule, while beating Bowling Green or Ohio in home games also being in play. Of course, that’s if Jackson takes a step at quarterback and the defense improves. Otherwise, all of the double-digit losses from a year ago will continue to pop up. This team may be better, but expecting more than four wins would be a long shot. Buffalo has the worst odds at +11500 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the conference if that says anything, to go with an over/under at 3.5 wins that is getting more play on the under.


2017 Buffalo Bulls Football Schedule

Aug. 31 at Minnesota
Sept. 9 at Army
Sept. 16 vs. Colgate
Sept. 23 vs. Florida Atlantic

Sept. 30 at Kent State
Oct. 7 vs. Western Michigan
Oct. 14 vs. Northern Illinois

Oct. 21 at Miami (OH)
Oct. 28 at Akron
Nov. 7 vs. Bowling Green
Nov. 16 at Ball State
Nov. 24 vs. Ohio

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