Georgia Southern vs Buffalo Odds
The Georgia Southern Eagles and Buffalo Bulls will play in the 2022 Camellia Bowl today at noon ET in Montgomery, AL.
However, we’ll be calling this “The Vantrease Bowl” in honor of Kyle Vantrease, the longtime Buffalo quarterback who transferred this offseason and now pilots this dynamic Georgia Southern offense.
Vantrease threw for 25 touchdowns during his time with the Bulls, a number he matched during his single regular season as a signal-caller in Statesboro. He’ll be looking to add to that total against his old outfit, which ranks 98th in defensive SP+ this season.
That ranking is actually significantly higher than Georgia Southern’s own porous unit, so this game has all the makings of a high-scoring affair. Should you play the total, or is there a better angle to find in this game?
Maurice Linguist’s second year at the helm in Buffalo got off to an inauspicious start, as the Bulls lost their first three contests of 2022, including a last-second defeat to FCS Holy Cross. But they righted the ship in league play, winning their next five games.
After a late-season swoon dropped their record to 5-6, they needed to beat lowly Akron in the finale — rescheduled to conference championship weekend — to earn bowl eligibility. The Bulls did so in unimpressive fashion, falling behind 16-0 and needing a late rally to beat the Zips.
The Bulls offense — which ranks 93rd in SP+ — is driven by quarterback Cole Snyder, a depth chart casualty transfer from Rutgers. Snyder started all 12 games in the regular season; he completed 59.2% of his passes for 2,765 yards, along with 17 touchdowns and eight picks.
It’s hard to find an area in which the Buffalo offense excels, as it’s near the bottom of FBS in most rushing metrics. In passing metrics, it’s more middle of the pack. (55th in Passing Success, 77th in passing explosives).
Buffalo games are unpredictable and prone to big plays and Havoc. The Bulls offense is one of the worst in the country at preventing Havoc. On the other side of the ball, they are one of the best defenses in the country at generating Havoc.
Safety Marcus Fuqua is a star; he led the nation in interceptions with seven, which earned him third-team All-America honors from the Associated Press. Fuqua is a one-man Havoc machine.
Takeaways are critical for the Bulls defense because it’s not a particularly efficient unit. In particular, it has struggled to defend the pass, ranking in the 90s in FBS preventing both explosives and successful pass rate.
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Clay Helton in Statesboro — a “Year 0” affair as he scrapped decades of triple option tradition to transition to a modern spread RPO offense.
There’s even an in-state example at a Power Five school of how drawn-out and tedious that process can take. Instead, the Eagles offense was dynamic all season — it ranked 38th in SP+ — serving as the only truly good unit in this game. And they earned a bowl game in Helton’s first campaign.
The offense is led by Vantrease, the longtime Buffalo starter. After five seasons with the Bulls, the Ginger General transferred to Georgia Southern and had a marvelous season, completing 61.4% of his passes for 3,901 yards along with 25 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Vantrease is an excellent point guard, distributing the ball to playmakers like running backs Jalen White and Gerald Green, and his quartet of dynamic receivers in Khaleb Hood, Amare Jones, Derwin Burgess and Jeremy Singleton.
Jones and Burgess were both lost for the season in November, but that didn’t stop Georgia Southern from hanging 52 points on archrival Appalachian State in the finale to clinch a sixth win and a bowl berth.
In fact, the only two teams that held Georgia Southern under 20 points were Marshall and Louisiana, two excellent pass defenses that ranked in the top 10 in PFF coverage grading as a whole.
Buffalo’s secondary, despite Fuqua’s ballhawk skills, is not nearly at that level, ranking 93rd.
The biggest mismatch in this affair will be Georgia Southern’s ability to move the ball down the field with the high-percentage pass game. The Eagles are 19th in FBS in Success Rate when passing the ball, while the Bulls are 95th in Success Rate Allowed against the pass.
Georgia Southern will need to control the ball and find the end zone frequently because its defense has had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad year.
The Eagles rank 124th in defensive SP+ and are near the bottom in pretty much every split. They will also be without their best defender, cornerback Derrick Canteen, who has opted out to enter the transfer portal.
Georgia Southern vs Buffalo Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Buffalo and Georgia Southern match up statistically:
Georgia Southern Offense vs. Buffalo Defense
Buffalo Offense vs. Georgia Southern Defense
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||39||82|
|Seconds per Play||26.0 (52)||22.0 (9)|
|Rush Rate||53.9% (66)||38.3% (129)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Georgia Southern vs. Buffalo Prediction, Picks
Both of these squads entered November with a 5-3 record, then lost three straight and needed a close win in the finale to earn a postseason berth.
But Georgia Southern’s skid was schedule related: it fell to three bowl teams (Marshall, South Alabama, Louisiana), which were coincidentally the three toughest pass defenses on the schedule. Then the Eagles won a dramatic game over archrival and preseason conference favorite App State.
Buffalo was uninspiring in November; two of its losses came against non-bowl teams in Kent State and Central Michigan. Plus, it suffered a blowout loss to Ohio. It also barely scraped by against rebuilding 2-10 Akron.
Buffalo’s biggest strength is its Havoc creation on defense, where it ranks 10th in the country. Unfortunately for the Bulls, that is nullified by Georgia Southern’s offense, which ranks second overall in preventing Havoc.
While Vantrease might throw an interception or two, the team does a great job otherwise protecting the ball, avoiding sacks and staying ahead of the sticks.
Georgia Southern’s advantage is its efficient pass game. Buffalo has not shown much ability to prevent teams from moving the ball through the air.
I’ll take Vantrease against his old squad and lay the points with Georgia Southern, which has an energized fanbase close to home. I’ll take the Eagles at -4.5 and play to -6.
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