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2019 Opponent Snapshot: Buffalo Bulls

Penn State’s week two opponents will be replacing a lot from a talented 2018 team.

NCAA Football: Dollar General Bowl-Buffalo vs Troy John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Quick 2018 Recap: Under the leadership of head coach Lance Leipold and gunslinger Tyree Jackson, the Bulls had a fantastic 2018 season. Buffalo went 10-4 and won the MAC. The Bulls spent the middle of the season as an “others receiving votes” team in the top 25 polls. They averaged more than 30 points per game and Jackson and wide receiver Anthony Johnson formed one of the nation’s best tandems.

Offensive Player to Watch: RB Jarrett Patterson

Between players leaving for the NFL Draft and others transferring, the Bulls are a shell of the team they were a year ago. Patterson, however, returns and will be the focal point of the offense after rushing for 1,013 yards and 14 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman a year ago. The diminutive back (5-foot-9, 195 pounds) presses the hole well and has enough burst to make opponents pay for taking a bad angle.

Defensive Player to Watch: LB James Patterson

It turns out the Pattersons come in twos. The twin brothers from Maryland were both outstanding for the Bulls in 2018 despite their relative lack of experience. At 6-foot, 235 pounds Patterson is a stout inside backer who finished second on the team in tackles with 77. Much like his brother, James gets sideline to sideline in a hurry and seems to have a nose for the football.

Penn State Wins If: The defense is remotely as good as most expect it to be.

Lance Leipold is fantastic head coach and could very well find himself in a bigger job not too far down the line, but he’s got a tough task ahead of him in 2019.

The Bulls are replacing their starting quarterback, their top two wide receivers (one to graduation and one to transfer), their leading tackler and their best pass rusher. That’s a tough scenario to overcome for any team, particularly one in a mid-tier conference.

Buffalo Wins If: Sean Clifford is way, way worse than anybody would’ve imagined.

Major Changes for 2019: As we mentioned above, a lot has changed for the Buffs but the coaching staff staying in tact should help made the transition period a little more smooth than it could have been. Still, it would be a surprise to most if Buffalo were off and running just two weeks into the season.