99 for 99 - #44 - The Other Great Season

The other great season

99 for 99 takes a look at the 99 biggest moments in UB Football history in anticipation of the 99th Season of UB Football which begins on Saturday. These moments are not in any order, however the top 10 moments have been saved for last.

1959 - The 1959 Bulls finish 8-1, One game short of back-to-back Lambert Cups.

If you ask any True Bluer to name the best season in UB history, you can gauge a lot of things.

If they without hesitation declare it to be 2008, then they are young and probably do not know their UB history, or they just enjoy the sweet sweet bias of it happened later therefore it is better.

If they say 1958 hands down, chances are they are old, or like old timey things, before it became about fibermicropoly helmet stripes.

If they say 1897 or 1899 they are hipsters, and since we can't afford to lose any fans, I allow it, but once the bandwagon is full I'm pushing the hipsters off first.

If they struggle between 1958 and 2008, then they are probably a passionate Bull Runner, and they know their UB.

2008 had a symmetry that put it perfectly up on a pedestal: We were awful for 5 years, then won 5 games in 2007, hit the apex winning the MAC in 2008, back down to 5 wins in 2009 and then back to awful.

1958 came after two 5 win seasons, but Buffalo did not drop back to 5 wins in 1959, they matched the 8-1 season in 1958. So why is '58 one of the greatest, and '59 always forgotten? Well for a team with only 2 bowl invitations and 2 trophies, 1959 failed to provide either. Despite a great season, that fact prevents 1959 from becoming one of the great seasons in UB history, its just "that other great season."

UB started their Lambert Cup defense in Philadelphia against a Temple Owls team that had lost 12 straight matches. Buffalo made it a baker's dozen, defeating the Owls 28-14.

UB opened up their home schedule with a 68-2 rout of Cortland. Willie Evans opened the game with a 49-yard touchdown run and three different QBs threw a touchdown pass in the victory.

Buffalo then traveled back to Pennsylvania to open a two-game road trip at Bucknell. Bucknell was highly touted coming into the season but those expectations were quelled by a loss to Harvard. Unfortunately for UB, their second trip to Pennsylvania was not as successful as the first; Bucknell snapped Buffalo's 7 game win streak with a 26-21 victory.

At 2-1, UB faced a season-defining game. In Berea Ohio, UB faced Baldwin-Wallace. The previous year first-year head coach Lee Tressel and his YellowJackets were the only team to defeat Buffalo and they did so handily; a 26-0 shutout in Buffalo. Buffalo was able to rebound from last weeks loss and avenge the 1958 loss with a 27-18 victory.

Buffalo returned home for a homecoming matchup against Western Reserve. For the second time in two home games, the Bulls only allowed 2 points. Gene Guerrie threw a TD pass to Bill Brogan, and Brogan added two more rushing touchdowns to give UB the 22-2 victory.

In the following game, UB's seniors ensured they would never experience a losing season; they beat Youngstown 16-7 and improved to 5-1 on the season.

UB finished the season with 3 games at home and a shot at a second straight Lambert cup, trailing only undefeated Delaware. The first home game was against Rhode Island. Three days before the game, on November 4, 1959, the Buffalo Bills were named the seventh team granted an AFL franchise. While excitement swirled over professional football coming to the city, on November seventh, the Bulls showed they were still Buffalo's football team. The Rams were able to score more than two points in Buffalo, they scored six, and Buffalo handled them easily 41-6. The next week, UB played their most contested home game of the year, a 19-6 victory over Gettysburg.

At 7-1 UB faced Marshall on November 21, 1959. The following day, Delaware would play Bucknell. Delaware opened the door for Buffalo with help from our current MAC foes Bowling Green. Bowling Green and Delaware, both undefeated, faced each other and BGSU came out on top. Both Buffalo and Delaware had one loss, but Delaware's loss was more impressive. This set the stage for an amazing finish in the race for the Lambert Cup: a Buffalo win and a Delaware loss would give Buffalo the Cup, a Buffalo loss or a Delaware win would give Delaware the Cup.

UB dominated again at home, beating Marshall 37-12. On the season, Buffalo was 5-0 at home and outscored opponents 187-28. The next day, Bucknell started well against Delaware and at the half, the game was tied 6-6. In the second half Delaware dominated Bucknell, winning the game 22-6 and the 1959 Lambert Cup. The Bulls finished 2nd.

1959 capped over two season of dominance that saw the Bulls go 20-4. Ironically after 1959, Buffalo would forever be a Bills town as the professional team won two championships in the 60s as the college team faded and eventually disappeared.

On a larger scale, 1959 was the apex for New York State Football. Today New York State football is looked down on as inferior, especially compared to other big states like California, Florida and Texas. 1959 however saw Ernie "The Elmira Express" Davis led the Syracuse Orangemen to their only National Championship in 1959 and Buffalo born Willie Evans led the Bulls to back-to-back 8-1 records in Buffalo.

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