— UB Football (@UBFootball) October 8, 2017
Despite losing 71-68 in the highest-scoring game in college football history, the Buffalo Bulls have much to be proud of.Less than one year after the Pittsburgh Panthers edged the Syracuse Orange in the highest-scoring game in college football history, the Buffalo Bulls and Western Michigan Broncos raised the stakes. In a seven-overtime, 139-point contest that broke every record in the books, UB and WMU sent the sporting universe into a craze.
The two teams combined to set a lot of records on Saturday afternoon: seven overtimes ties the all-time mark, set three previous times; 139 points breaks it; and 68 points for Buffalo, the also-ran, gives it the highest point total for a losing team — ever.
But, despite this, Lance Leipold’s Buffalo squad has a lot to be proud of. They’re 3–3, on pace to make a bowl game for the first time since 2013, and they’re doing it with their backup quarterback. When Tyree Jackson, the club’s signal caller, went down with a knee injury in Week 4, everybody counted them out. But backup Drew Anderson has looked more than capable as his replacement, tossing 597 yards and 7 touchdowns on Saturday night.
This doesn’t mean all is rosy in Western New York: the run defense is still a work in progress, and the secondary just got torched. But looking at the big picture, it’s difficult to be frustrated with this team right now. On offense, a talented line and weapons like Anthony Johnson have propelled Buffalo to success. On the other side of the ball, playmakers like Khalil Hodge are terrorizing opposing teams.
— UB Athletics (@UBAthletics) October 8, 2017
It’s the offensive line, a unit which returned four of five starters and brought massive 6-6, 344-pound Rutgers transfer Jacquis Webb into the fold, that’s paved the way for UB’s success. Led by preseason All-MAC center James O’Hagan, this group has given Buffalo’s humdrum backfield big holes all season long. O’Hagan, Webb and Tomas Jack-Kurdyla will still have eligibility after the 2017 season, making it possible that their best days are in front of them.
While the Bulls won’t challenge for any of the major bowls at this point of the season, it won’t be out of the picture next year. Hodge, Jackson and running back Emmanuel Reed should all return. So should Leipold, who seems to finally be finding his footing as a Division-I head coach. With DIII Wisconsin-Whitewater, he posted a record of 199–26 over eight seasons. He was also 34—1 in the playoffs.
With University at Buffalo athletics at a crossroads, the football program’s success has to be a sign of fresh air. School administrators cut four programs this April, including men’s baseball, men’s soccer, men’s swimming and diving, and women’s rowing. This leaves the college with 16 sports teams — the minimum requirement to remain in the MAC.
Have a Day, @_youngscoob_
Anderson’s 597 yards were the highest in MAC single-game history & his 7️⃣ TD's tied the MAC single-game record. pic.twitter.com/MXNmf6QG5q
— #MACtion (@MACSports) October 8, 2017
But the teams that the school didn’t touch — with the exception of basketball and maybe tennis — are struggling with on-field issues, as well. None of the programs outside of basketball and tennis have won MAC championships in the recent past. There have even been some unsubstantiated whispers that the university could switch down from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in an attempt to bolster results.
However, there are off-the-field signs that UB is still committed to putting a winning product on the field. Most notably, athletics director Allen Greene recently announced that the university has “secured the services of Rochester-based LeChase Construction as the general contractor and New York-based architecture firm CHA” for a 92,000-square-foot indoor practice facility. The tentative completion date for the project is spring 2019.
“This facility is a game-changer for us and is very important to our success moving forward,” Greene said. “It’s a facility that is going to enhance the entire student-athlete experience at UB and benefit every one of our student-athletes, as well as the general student population.”
The football team’s success should do that, too.