BUFFALO - In four games against opponents from the big-boy Football Bowl Subdivision during the previous two seasons, Stony Brook took UTEP into overtime before losing, led Syracuse at halftime in a close loss and broke through for a win at Army. But the Seawolves suffered their worst loss in that span two years ago, a 35-7 blowout at Buffalo.
After recovering to advance to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs each of the past two seasons, Stony Brook (1-0) is ready for a rematch Saturday afternoonat UB Stadium. The Bulls are 0-2 after playing No. 4 Ohio State and No. 22 Baylor but looking to get well against the Seawolves, who are No. 17 in the FCS coaches poll.
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Stony Brook linebacker Grant Nakwaasah recalled that loss at Buffalo, which included a long touchdown pass on the game's first play and TD runs of 22, 29 and 43 yards by Branden Oliver.
"We were a younger defense then, and we had a couple of miscommunication's that led to TDs,'' Nakwaasah said. "We should be better this year. Playing a [FBS] team, you go in with a different mindset. You're ready for bigger, stronger, faster."
Nakwaasah led Stony Brook in that loss with six tackles, and he had eight in the 24-0 win at Rhode Island last week. "That was a big accomplishment," he said of the shutout. "We're proud of that."
The Seawolves have three new starters in the secondary, but safeties Naim Cheeseboro and Christian Ricard played well as first-time starters. The third, transfer cornerback Reuben Johnson, was defensive player of the week in the Colonial Athletic Association with two fumble recoveries and four tackles.
But the Seawolves' defense revolves around the play of Nakwaasah and senior captain Jawara Dudley at linebacker. "We've played next to each other for four years, and we have a chemistry," Nakwaasah said. "The defensive line trusts us to have their backs."
Although Buffalo's Joe Licata hit receiver Alex Neutz for six completions covering 197 yards and one touchdown last week at Baylor, Nakwaasah said the numbers were "inflated" because of the nature of a 70-13 loss. The focus is on stopping Oliver, who has only 105 yards rushing and a 2.7 average, and backup running back Anthone Taylor.
"They run hard, but they're nothing too special," Nakwaasah said. "We know we have the talent to play with any team in the country."