If you're looking for something positive, the University at Buffalo surrendered 57 fewer points to Northern Illinois than it did the previous week against Western Michigan. Once again, it wasn't enough.
Northern Illinois outlasted UB in a defensive struggle Saturday en route to a 14-13 victory over the Bulls at UB Stadium. In stark contrast to the shootout loss from a week earlier, neither team scored in the second half.
Buffalo's offense struggled on various fronts against Northern, which showed why it had the top-rated defense in the Mid-American Conference.
UB was down to its third quarterback, freshman Kyle Vantrease, after backup Drew Anderson suffered a bruised shoulder in the second quarter. Anderson made his third straight start after taking over for Tyree Jackson, who suffered a sprained knee in the first half of a 34-31 win over Florida Atlantic.
Anderson was coming off a game in which he threw for a MAC-record 597 yards and seven touchdowns in 71-68 seven-overtime loss to Western Michigan. He had completed 13 of 18 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown before he was carted into the locker room.
Northern Illinois, which knocked off Nebraska earlier in the season, allowed 383 yards but only one touchdown to a team that had nine the previous week. With redshirt freshman backup Marcus Childers running a conservative offense, the Huskies' methodical attack produced touchdowns on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter for all the points they needed.
Childers waltzed untouched into the end zone from the 10-yard line on a keeper for one score before he found tight end Shane Wimann for a 34-yard score for the other. Anderson started slowly against a good defense before finding Emanuel Reed on a 21-yard touchdown pass to bring UB within, 14-10.
Adam Mitcheson hit a pair of 23-yard field goals but missed from 34 yards with a chance to give UB the lead. Buffalo's defense played considerably better than it did the previous week when allowing 31 points in the first four quarters and another 40 during the seven OTs.
Play of the Game: Northern Illinois picked up a key first down on a fourth-and-1 play from its own 47 with about seven minutes remaining. Childers gained 3 yards on a keeper, allowing the Huskies to burn nearly three minutes off the clock. In a game lacking big plays, it was an important one.
Player of the Game: Anthony Johnson continues to impress in his first season with UB. The junior wideout had seven catches for 140 yards.
Big-play Bulls: UB has 13 plays of 45 yards or longer in the first seven games this season after recording five such plays last year. Johnson alone has five catches this season that were longer than 45 yards, including a 47-yard grab Saturday on the first play of the fourth.
Welcome Home: Northern Illinois receiver Chad Beebe returned "home" and had one catch for 27 yards for the Huskies. He also returned three punts for 23 yards. Beebe was born in Buffalo in 1994, before his father, speedy receiver Don Beebe, played the last of his six seasons with the Bills. Like his father, Chad Beebe wore No. 82.
First Fumble: Buffalo didn't recover a fumble in the first six games before pouncing on two Saturday. Demone Harris jumped on a loose ball that was jarred from Northern running back Tommy Mister in the second quarter. Myles Nicholas fell on Childers' fumble inside the Buffalo 10-yard line in the third quarter.
Counting the House: Announced paid attendance was 12,784. The number of people actually sitting in the seats was roughly 2,000.
Up Next: Buffalo visits Miami next week and returns to Ohio the following week for a game against Akron. UB is 1-2 on the road this season.