3:30 p.m. at UB Stadium
Radio: 1520 AM. Online: ESPN3.
Last season: This is the seventh straight season UB has hosted an FCS opponent. Albany went 7-5 last season but lost its all-time leading passer and its leading rusher. The Great Danes are picked for 10th in the Colonial Athletic Association, which includes the likes of Villanova, Stony Brook, Delaware and Maine.
Trending: UB fans remember the five-OT struggle to beat Stony Brook two years ago. But that Stony Brook team was more veteran and had several big-time transfers. Albany is much younger, with only three senior starters. The QB is 6-1 sophomore D.J. Crook (No. 14), a transfer from Penn State, where he was a walk-on. Crook saw mop-up duty in two games last year because Penn State didn’t want to burn the redshirts of two scholarship freshman QBs. WR Josh Gontarek (No. 2) is preseason all-CAA. Albany’s defense has eight returning starters, led by LB Michael Nicastro (No. 11). DE Malachi Hoskins (No. 9) had four sacks last year. All four defensive backs are returning starters.
Stat check: UB QB Joe Licata enters the season needing 2,233 passing yards to pass Drew Willy for the Bulls’ career record. Licata passed for 2,647 yards last season. Licata has thrown a TD pass in 12 straight games.
Star Gazing: UB is loaded at the skill positions. RB Anthone Taylor (No. 1) ranked second in the MAC in rushing yards per game last season. WR Ron Willoughby (No. 86) ranked second in receiving TDs with nine and averaged 15.4 yards on 50 catches. Watch for new slot receiver Collin Lisa (No. 13), a transfer from Alabama-Birmingham who had a strong training camp.
At Stake: It would be nice for UB to open the Lance Leipold era with an emphatic victory. The Bulls have a week to work out kinks before next week’s giant test at Penn State. While UB isn’t really recruiting against lower-division Albany for players, the Bulls’ program wants to assert its presence in New York State.
Prediction: UB 48, Albany 17.
– Mark Gaughan