The UB Bulls are going bowling!
That certainly has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
This Saturday, Buffalo will take part in only their second bowl game in program history when they face Mountain West foe San Diego State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
The Aztecs (7-5) present one of the toughest challenges that UB will face all year.
After starting the year 0-3, including a loss to FCS school Eastern Illinois in their opener, they’ve responded by winning seven of their last nine.
A team that is no stranger to playing in close games, San Diego State has gone 6-2 this year in contests decided by seven or less points, including a 34-31 win over Boise State in overtime.
Overtime has also been a common theme for the Aztecs this year. They've gone to OT four times, winning three times. Their lone loss after regulation, a 35-28 defeat at the hands of #17 Fresno State.
On offense, San Diego State is led by quarterback Quinn Kaehler. In his first year as the Aztecs starter, Kaehler has put up solid numbers, passing for 2,796 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
His two main targets are Ezell Ruffin and Colin Lockett. Ruffin has had a tremendous year, recording 63 receptions for 1,061 yards and three touchdowns.
Lockett has also been solid, bringing down 49 receptions for 696 yards and five touchdowns.
Beyond them, Kaehler does a good job spreading the ball, with nine Aztecs players recording double-digit receptions.
A strength of San Diego State’s offense is running the ball. While only 74th in the nation in rushing yards per game, the Aztecs use their running game to finish drives.
Led by the duo of Adam Muema and Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State has run for 1,917 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Muema has run for 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns on 228 carries while Pumphrey has 750 yards and eight touchdowns on 123 carries.
As an offensive unit, they average 28.2 points per game, which ranks 71st in the country.
Their defense is the root of the Aztecs problems. San Diego State allows 32.3 points per game, good for 97th in the nation.
They’ve given up 40+ points four times this year and are no strangers to shootouts.
The Aztecs have played in five games in which both themselves and their opponents have scored 30+ points. In those games, San Diego State is 4-1.
Overall, they're a team that’s much better than their record indicates. The Mountain West is a clear step above the MAC and the Aztecs have had a much tougher conference slate than UB.
The Bulls are more than capable of winning this game though. Statistically, the Bulls have a better defense and they'll need them to step up.
Against the better offensive teams they’ve faced, UB's defense has struggled.
The Bulls defensive line was manhandled against Bowling Green and Toledo, their last two losses. That can't happen against San Diego State if UB wants to win.
Buffalo needs their big men up front on both sides of the ball to step up and control the trenches.
If they do, they should put themselves in a good position to leave Boise with their first bowl win in program history.
Regardless, it should be a good game that should go down to the wire if this season is any indication of things to come.
Win or lose, it's been a tremendous year for UB football and its fans. Making a bowl game is a great accomplishment for this program and should help them going forward.
As for my pick, I’m split. My brain says San Diego State but my heart says Buffalo. In these situations, I say, to hell with my brain!
Always follow your heart! (yes, I know I’m corny)
Prediction: Buffalo 27-24