Buffalo’s “FCS game” of the year and home opener will come against one of the more dangerous FCS teams that few FBS fan bases really talk about.
UB first played Holy Cross in 1923, and played them nearly every year in the 1960’s, culminating with the program’s last win in 1970, televised on ABC no less, before shuttering the football program for nearly a decade.
This will be the first meeting since that Buffalo reboot.
Holy Cross has made the FCS playoffs each of the past three seasons and Bob Chesney’s crew got into the quarter-finals last year where they gave #5 Villanova everything that they could handle.
They also knocked of UConn in week one of the season after taking control of the game in the second quarter and leaning on their defense to keep the lead.
And in general, that’s the secret to their success. The Crusaders are led by quarterback Matthew Sluka who is a game manager. He has decent numbers, a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio, and the like. But Holy Cross was not beating a lot of people through the air last season.
They use a dependable passing game to set up one of the top 20 rushing attacks in the football championship sub-division. And that rushing game was led last year by …. Sluka.
They run a really well-honed read-option scheme that allows Sluka the flexibility to take the play outside and make the most of whatever the defense gives him.
When they do hand it off it’s usually Peter Oliver getting the ball. Last season he ran for more than 800 yards on 5.2 per carry.
The Defense carries this team though. They were the best defense in the FCS last season, only giving up 254 yards a game. The unit led by Linebacker Jason Dobbs is quite proficient at getting after the quarterback so Buffalo’s offensive line is going to need to have themselves together early in the season.
This game is definitely not a sleeper for Buffalo. The week after a big ten date and before a trip to Coastal Carolina it’s easy to see Buffalo overlooking an FCS home date, but the Crusaders are the kind of team that can make an FBS squad pay for overlooking them.