MO State HS Sports
Credit: LG Patterson

Mizzou opponent preview: Buffalo

Week two of Mizzou’s football schedule sees them play their first FBS opponent of the season. The Tigers will welcome the Buffalo Bulls to Faurot Field on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m.

The Bulls struggled last year going 3-9 and going 3-5 in MAC conference play. The season had some tough losses including losing 40-37 against Fordham, who plays in the FCS.

Head Coach

Buffalo is coached by Pete Lembo who will be entering his first season as the Bulls head coach. Lembo has experience as a head coach for Lehigh, Elon and Ball State. Most recently, Lembo served as South Carolina’s associate head coach and special teams coordinator from 2021-2023. Lembo is known for his ability to develop quarterbacks and his passing style of offense, so who will be doing the passing for the Bulls?


The quarterback battle seems to be a two-horse race between C.J. Ogbonna and Jack Shields. Shields is a transfer from Old Dominion who appeared in six games and made two starts at quarterback in 2023. He completed 25-of-47 passes for 353 yards and two touchdowns. Ogbonna is a transfer from SEMO where he was named to the Ohio Valley Conference All-Newcomer Team in 2021. He appeared in eight games for the Bulls and rushed for 214 yards on 51 carries and three touchdowns. He also threw for 87 yards and a touchdown. Mizzou will have to prepare for two different quarterback types, Shields who prefers to sit in the pocket and throw and Ogbonna who likes to leave the pocket and run.

Wide Receivers

The receiver room has been dismantled for Buffalo, losing their top five receivers from last season including guys like Marylyn Johnson and Darrell Harding Jr. who both had over 450 receiving yards.

Nik McMillian will be one of the only contributors from 2023 returning in 2024. The redshirt sophomore only had 180 receiving yards last season but averaged 25 yards per catch and can ignite an offense with a big play.

J.J. Jenkins in a transfer from Columbia University where he had 74 receptions for 975 yards and seven touchdowns in the last two seasons and was named All-Ivy League honorable mention in 2022.

Taji Johnson has some experience at this level and against Mizzou. He played for Boston College the last four years appearing in 46 games and totaling 19 receptions for 119 yards in his career. Johnson will be hoping for an expanded role as a member of the Bulls.

Running Backs

The Bulls will not return their two leading rushers, Ron Cook Jr. and Mike Washington Jr. who combined for over 1,000 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns.

Jacquez Barksdale is expected to lead the backfield this season; he appeared in 11 games and ran for 248 yards and two touchdowns in his first season with the Bulls. Barksdale also averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry.

Preseason All-MAC

Five Bulls were named to Phil Steele’s preseason All-MAC list.

Offensive lineman Tyler Doty and linebacker Shaun Dolac both made the first team. Dolac started the first four games of the season before missing the remainder of the season with an injury. He will be looking to pick up where he left off in 2023 where he led the Mid-American Conference and ranked second in the nation in tackles with 147 and had a school-record 97 solo tackles which also led the nation.

Linebacker Red Murdock was named to the third team along with safety Marcus Fuqua. Murdock ranked third on the team in tackles with 60 and had 9.5 tackles for loss in 2023 while Fuqua had 57 tackles which ranked fourth on the team.

After a challenging 2023, Buffalo will hope that behind first-year head coach Pete Lembo, several returning defensive players and an assortment of new offensive players will be enough to help them return to winning ways.