KICKOFF: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
SITE: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
SERIES: First Meeting
RANKINGS: Buffalo unranked, Ohio State No. 2.
Ohio State comes into this game with the nation's longest winning streak, at 12, and a quarterback in junior Braxton Miller who is an early favorite to lead the Heisman Trophy.
Buffalo comes into the game hoping to avoid embarrassment.
This year, the Buckeyes are eligible to create whatever kind of history they can accomplish, and Urban Meyer has the horses to make a run at the glass football awarded to the BCS champion. This is expected to be an easy first step.
Miller is surrounded with talent throughout the offensive unit. The rebuilding on the defensive side takes place along the line, where the young, athletic and super-talented recent Meyer recruits give him a defensive front that very much resembles the super-quick unit that was Florida's hammer when the Gators routed Ohio State in the 2006 title game.
Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn reaches that pivotal third season in his tenure with the Bulls, and things need to happen in a positive fashion to keep the faithful in the fold. There was some buzz in the final portion of the season when QB Joe Licata led the Bulls to three wins in the last four games, but Buffalo will forget all of that in a hurry as it opens with Ohio State and then Baylor. Those mismatches will fill the coffers, but could endanger the confidence for this team.
KEYS TO THE GAME
This should be an great showcase for Miller and his Heisman candidacy, which may mean it is a no-win situation for him because if he does well it was expected anyway. And if he is less than outstanding against an overmatched Buffalo team, it will not look good for him.
For Buffalo, the game plan is to stay healthy because there is a lot of season left after this visit to The Horseshoe.
Although Buffalo looks overmatched everywhere, it does have one player who might be good enough to start for the Buckeyes in senior linebacker Khalil Mack. But he certainly cannot stop Ohio State on his own.
Licata gave Buffalo some momentum and confidence by winning three of the final four games last year.
But he is up against it. Even with Ohio State All-American caliber DB Bradley Roby sidelined because of a suspension, the Buckeyes have more than enough skill and talent to make things very difficult for Licata.
After the Ohio State front quickly snuffs any attempt by the Bulls to run the ball, it will be time for DB Christian Bryant, DB C.J. Barnett and DB Corey Brown to start knocking down passes and grabbing interceptions
Overall, although Buffalo returns seven starters on defense and nine on offense, there are mismatches everywhere in Ohio State's favor, making it difficult to pinpoint a key unless it is something like turnovers or inability for Ohio State to play up to its ample potential.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
-- LB Khalil Mack is rated as the No. 42 overall prospect in the 2014 draft by NFLDraftScout.com. Mack, 6-3, 248, was a first-team All-MAC selection in 2012 and is the anchor of UB's linebacking corps. He has 56 tackles for a loss in his career at Buffalo.
-- QB Joe Licata started the final four games last year and won three to firmly establish his role as the starter. He finished 2012 hitting 86 of 163 passes for 1,013 yards, 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
--QB Braxton Miller walks out on a stage that has been set up for him to make his case to be this season's Heisman Trophy winner. His ever-evolving skill set, combined with a full year and a half to get acclimated to the spread offense that Urban Meyer prefers, should put Miller in position to open a huge junior season with a big outing against grossly undermanned Buffalo. The OSU coaching staff contends Miller has improved in every facet of the game, and that is news Buffalo, and the rest of the Big Ten, did not want to hear.
--RB Jordan Hall was a tag-along prospect when he showed up at Ohio State, but after coming back from a freak injury where he stepped on a piece of glass in the yard of his rental house, Hall finds himself as the designated ball carrier against Buffalo because both starter RB Carlos Hyde and backup RB Rod Smith are both suspended.
--TE Jeff Heuerman seems destined to be something special on an Ohio State team loaded with NFL prospects. At 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, Heuerman presents a big target, but his athleticism and his ability to get down the field quickly are what make him stand out. The blocking skills are fine, and on many plays Heuerman will be a third offensive tackle, but the wild card he brings to the table is his pass-catching skill, which is always in play.
--P Cameron Johnston, a 21-year-old freshman from Australia, has won the starting job and possesses a missile launcher of a leg. The questions remain as to how he will handle the pressure of 100,000 fans, a rush bearing down on him, and home halfway around the globe.
--LB Ryan Shazier is poised to join the list of greats who have played this position for the Buckeyes. Shazier has learned many of the nuances of the position and should be a constant nightmare for Buffalo. Shazier had 115 tackles, including 17 for loss, along with five sacks last season, and he will likely get 2013 off with a bang by ringing up a few highlight plays against the Bulls.