Saturday will mark the first ever meeting between Tennessee and Buffalo and only the eighth meeting with a Mid-American Conference team for the Vols; they are undefeated in their previous seven. Buffalo lost their only meeting with an SEC school in 2006 to Auburn.
Buffalo has lost three of its first four games this season and enters the game as a 28.5 point underdog.
The Bulls are coming off a tough 17-3 loss at home to Connecticut in which they gave up two big pass plays—one of 49 yards for a touchdown and one of 64 yards that setup a touchdown—that killed their chances of pulling the upset. The Buffalo rush defense seems to be coming into its own after giving up only 80 rushing yards to the run-heavy Huskies; this could cause problems for the Vols as they look to reestablish their run offense this week and provide some offensive balance.
The defensive strength for the Bulls this season has been their passing defense; they've given up only 184.3 yards per game through the air so far. The Bulls' 29th ranked pass defense will face its greatest challenge of the season when they come into Neyland Stadium Saturday and try to slow Tyler Bray, Da'Rick Rogers and one of the nation's top-10 passing offenses.
Cincinnati transfer Chazz Anderson leads the Bulls' 85th ranked offensive attack. The 5th-year senior quarterback has plenty of options that could present problems for the Vol defense. Running back Branden Oliver is averaging over 100 yards per game on the ground and the Bulls receiving tandem of Alex Neutz (22 receptions), Marcus Rivers (26 receptions) and Terrell Jackson (All-MAC 1st Team Return Man) is the top receiving trio in the MAC.
Defensively, Buffalo is led by All-American candidate Khalil Mack at linebacker. Mack leads the Bulls this season with 31 tackles, nine tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. Mack and junior defensive end Steven Means lead a defense that has performed well this season but lacks starting experience; minus Mack and Means, Buffalo's other nine starters have combined to start only 17 games prior to this season.
The Bulls special teams is led by All-MAC return man Terrell Jackson and kicker/punter Peter Fardon. Jackson ranks second in Buffalo history in three special teams categories—career kickoff returns (74), career kickoff return yardage (1,467) and career punt return average (11.9). Fardon, a 29-year-old senior from Australia, was the Bulls punter last season and has taken over the kicking duties this season; he has made 2-of-4 field goal attempts.