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In short week, MU seeks second win

D4116,Football vs NIU
D4116,Football vs NIU

A short week presents an extra challenge for the Miami University football team when it hosts State University of New York at Buffalo on Thursday night. After falling 35-13 to Western Michigan University on Saturday, the RedHawks (1-7, 0-4 Mid-American Conference) seek an end to their seven-game losing streak.

"A shorter week, obviously, magnifies everything because you have less time to prepare," head coach Chuck Martin said.

Buffalo (3-4, 1-2 MAC) played at home last week during its 41-17 romping of Ohio University. Miami, on the other hand, was on the road in Michigan.

"So, advantage them, because they were at a home game and they could get to work a lot quicker than us," Martin said.

Martin said Miami's home advantage this week seems like a plus on paper, but the players' classes make it difficult to schedule football activities for a mid-week game. While Buffalo preps for the evening game all day Thursday, Miami's players will be in class.

"It gets all jumbled up because your whole routine is off. Your kids get up and go to class for most of the day and it feels like a class day, but now it's Saturday game day. Well, that's not how they prepare."

During a typical week in which games are played on Saturday, the team starts preparing for the game after classes Friday and stays in a hotel Friday night.

"It's all football and locked in and think about your job," Martin said. "But you can't go to a hotel on Wednesday because they got early morning classes on Thursday … that whole routine gets completely disrupted. So, I don't know if there's an advantage of being home or away."

Freshman quarterback Billy Bahl completed 13 of 26 passes for 200 yards against WMU Saturday and now faces a stiff Buffalo defense.

The Bulls lead the nation with six defensive touchdowns. All six scores have come from six different players. Junior cornerback Boise Ross is tied for the national lead in passes defended (2.3 per game) and leads the Bulls with 14 pass breakups and two interceptions.

UB's defense had four picks in last week's win against OU, and two came from senior linebacker Okezie Alozie.

"Buffalo got more aggressive, blitzed a lot more than they had in their previous game," Martin said. "I think that probably caught OU off guard because they really pressured a lot on first and second down, which they hadn't shown. So at least they let the cat out of the bag so we can prepare for more pressure on first and second down all week."

The Bulls' offense returns nine seniors and averages 375 yards and 28 points per game.

Quarterback Joe Licata ranks in the top 20 in MAC history in career touchdown passes. His first start and win as a starting quarterback was against Miami in 2012. This year, he has completed 151 of 243 passes with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Five wide receivers have at least 10 catches on the year, and each averages at least 10 yards per catch.

"Crazy amount of experience on the offensive side of the ball," Martin said.

Miami leads the all-time series with Buffalo, 12-5. However, the Bulls have won five of the last seven meetings, including two of the last three at Yager Stadium.

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Oxford, Ohio.