There’s a lot of hype surrounding football in Buffalo, but unfortunately it’s not for the University of Buffalo Bulls (1-3) of the Mid-American Conference. The hype is for the NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, who are 3-0 and knocked off the New England Patriots on Sunday.
The Bulls struggled in 2010, going 2-10 after replacing coach Turner Gill, who brought success to the program for the first time since it returned to the FCS in 1999. Jeff Quinn, the offensive coordinator on Brian Kelly’s successful Cincinnati teams, replaced Gill, who left to take the head coaching job at Kansas.
 Buffalo added talented senior quarterback Chazz Anderson, who transferred from Cincinnati after graduating early and having one more year of eligibility according to NCAA rules.
This season, Buffalo has struggled on the offensive side of the ball. They rank 102nd nationally in scoring offense. The issue isn’t moving the football; it’s putting points on the board. The rushing and passing attacks haven’t been bad, but last week in the game against Connecticut the Bulls’ only points came on a field goal despite out-gaining the Huskies 319-293 and getting inside the Huskies’ 35-yard line four times. The Bulls lost 17-3.
“The most important game is the next one on the schedule,” UT running back Tauren Poole said. “We have to take that approach out here every day. We can’t overlook Buffalo. We can’t overlook anybody. We’re definitely not the football team we want to be right now.”
The defense has kept Buffalo in games, only allowing 21.8 points per game. That’s good for 45th in the country. But up front, the Bulls have struggled, giving up 167 yards rushing per game. The secondary has played great football, only allowing 183 yards through the air.
This weekend, the Bulls travel to play the Tennessee Volunteers (2-1). This is the first match-up between the two teams and marks only the second occasion that the Bulls have played an SEC team. The first was a 38-7 loss at Auburn in 2006.
The Bulls go into the game as four touchdown underdogs. And while their chances are slim, historically, the Vols have struggled against MAC teams. In 2003 the Vols beat Marshall by 10; in 2008, they slid by Northern Illinois 13-9; and in 2009 beat Ohio by 11, all of those games at home with the Vols heavily favored.
“Buffalo’s a good team,” Tennessee defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “They are going to put up a good fight but if we go out there and do what we’re supposed to, we should be victorious.”
The Bulls have a good secondary, but it will be put to the test by gunslinger Tyler Bray and the potent Tennessee air attack, which has been surgical in it’s first three games. Also, the Bulls will have to play very tough up front if they want to compete; Tennessee running back Tauren Poole has great ability that he has yet to showcase in 2011.
 If the Bulls continue to struggle running the football, it could be a very long day for the team. An inability to run the ball means they can’t control the clock, which leads to the defense being on the field for longer periods of time. Late in the game, especially when one team is trying to pull off a major road upset, a fatigued defense is never good.