2013 MAC Football Year In Review: Buffalo Bulls

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

With the season finally over we take a look back at the seasons in review for our MAC teams. Today we look at the Buffalo Bulls who made the second bowl in team history.

Buffalo entered 2013 with one of the most talented teams in the MAC. UB was a good team, a senior heavy squad that some saw as having the stuff to compete for the Mid-American Conference East Division title. It would be the first time since 2009 that the Bulls entered a season with this level of enthusiasm.

Athletic Director Danny White was busy trying to put UB forth as the State's Flagship University and it made a lot of people at The Buffalo News rather unhappy.

On the field UB was going to be led by some of the best talent its had since joining the FBS back in 1999.

Most notably, Khalil Mack was considered likely a second round or better draft pick, as he began the season within range of two NCAA records. Mack solidified himself as a possible top ten selection as the season went on and other Seniors tried to make a case for the NFL. Running Back Branden Oliver broke school records as did Wide Receiver Alex Neutz. Both offensive players are borderline draft picks according to most services.

The team also set a University total attendance record, tied a 120 year old in season win streak record, and gave UB football fans something to watch in December for just the second time in school history.



Number two Ohio State defeats Buffalo 40 - 20 - Bull Run
The realistic goal of the weekend was that UB did not embarrass themselves, stayed healthy, and that Ohio States check cleared. Mission Accomplished. In fact if you put aside the games first ten minutes UB was nearly Ohio State's egual. Ohio state entered opening week as 35 point favorite against the Buffalo Bulls and early on in the game it looks like they would cover that spread by the half. But the Bulls dug down and found a way to keep within reach of Ohio State for most of the contest.

For the second year in a row Buffalo opened the season with a pay dya game against a top ten team. Many expected Ohio to discard Buffalo like a prep squad and through the first quarter it looked as if thats all the game was going to be.

Buffalo fell behind 23 to 0 before the Bulls showed any signs of life. But by one point in the second half UB was closing in on touchdown which would have made the score 27-30. Unfortunately a fumbled exchange near the goal line gave Braxton Miller the ball and a 95+ yard drive put UB away.


Final - 9.7.2013 1 2 3 4 Total
Buffalo Bulls 13 0 0 0 13
Baylor Bears 28 28 7 7 70

Complete Coverage >


Baylor Bears defeat the Buffalo Bulls 70 to 13 - Bull Run

It was not the heat, or the noise, or the environment that did UB in this weekend in Waco it was the the pace of the Baylor offense and Buffalo's inability to compensate against a team who ran a play every ten to thirteen seconds. For a short span of the first Quarter the offense looked like they might be able to keep it respectable but every single time the Bulls failed to score Baylor's offense got the ball and extended the lead in seconds.

Baylor was the opposite experience for Buffalo fans. Against the Bears UB scored first and were down early in the game 14-13. But the Bears buckled down, running every which way except wherever Khalil Mack was and shut down UB's scoring offense.

UB fans were treated to a clinic by Alex Neutz but in the end the Bulls were so buried by the tempo of Baylor's offense that that they abandoned the pass in favor of the run in some attempt to slow down the mugging.


Final - 9.14.2013 1 2 3 4 OT Total
Stony Brook Seawolves 0 0 0 10 3 23
Buffalo Bulls 3 0 7 0 3 26

Complete Coverage >


Thoughts on Stony Brook - A win is a win? - Bull Run
No it wasn't pretty but they did finally start to show some urgency, they did come together as a team and won in spite of the coaching. What was a flat performance by the players turned around at the time when it absolutely had to happen. If they come out with that kind of energy in the first half on offense we maybe go into the half with 20 points. On the defensive side I don't know what to think.

On the one hand they gave up just 10 points in regulation, that's a respectable number against the #13 FCS team in the nation. Even if Stony Brook's kicker does not have an epically bad afternoon the most they give up 16.

Oddly the real emotional low for Buffalo fans came in their first win of the season. A strong looking Stony Brook team came to UB and nearly knocked the Bulls off. To come so close to losing to an instate FCS team was devastating and led Conrad to drink

To make things worse shortly after this narrow victory over a lower division team Bull Run released the details of Jeff Quinn's signed extension. It was not well received by the fan base but Coach Quinn had a run in his pockets to put more fans in his corner... And it began with UConn!



Buffalo defeats UConn 41-12 - Bull Run
The Bulls defense held UConn to 0.3 yards per carry. The number skewed significantly by nealy 60 yards in sacks the defense hung on Chandler Whitmer. Even without the sacks the Huskies had just 84 yards rushing on 34 carries (2.5 yards per carry). Buffalo defensive coordinator Lou Tepper opened the game up by turning lose his pass rush and it payed off early. On UConn's first series Adam Redden knocked the ball away from Chandler Whitmer setup up the Bulls for the first score.

Buffalo had been close to beating UConn several times since their last victory but when this years edition of the Huskies arrived in Buffalo they were wholly unprepared for Khalil Mack and the Buffalo pass rush. The Bulls pounded UConn giving fans a to believe that perhaps a bowl would be possible.

Now having two wins against two losses the Bulls were .500 after September for the first time under Jeff Quinn.

Quinnreaper
Shortly after the embarrassing loss the Huskies sacked their coach Paul Pasqualoni and the "Quinn Reaper" was born. Several coaches who lost to Buffalo this season are looking for work. Pasqualoni, EMU's Ron English, and UMass' Charlie Molnar were all let go.

Paul Pasqualoni fired as UConn's coach - Bull Run
Last season Jeff Quinn effectively ended Bill Cubit's tenure at western Michigan when his Bronco's were soundly beaten by the Buffalo Bulls. The year before, 2011, Rob Ianello let the Bulls drop more than 50 on him and was sacked right after the season.

Coincidence? Maybe. But I call it fate! And Quinn is only getting better at snuffing out a coach when nobody is looking. His most recent victim was Paul Pasqualoni of Connecticut, he did not make it a week once "The Mighty Quinn" was finished with him.



Buffalo Defeats Eastern Michigan 42-14 - Bull Run
The tone was set with a Branden Oliver 60 yard touchdown scamper early in the first Quarter. Oliver would score another touchdown and put up 150 yards before Quinn went deep into the Buffalo bench near the end of the third Quarter.

Oliver's second score came on a short drive which was set up by a UB strip fumble and recovery in the shadow of the Eagles' goal post. It's the second week in a row Buffalo has used a turnover inside their opponents 20 early in the game.

The last team in the MAC which UB had never beaten finally fell. Buffalo had a winning record after Week One for the first time since 2008 and slowly energy was building among the UB fan base.



Buffalo Blanks Western Michigan - Bull Run
The Buffalo Bulls offense was a little slow off the block but the UB defense gave Joe Licata and company the time they needed to find a grove. Powered by a whistle to whistle defensive effort UB defeated the Western Michigan Broncos 33-0.

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via stream1.gifsoup.com

The Bulls headed into Kalamazoo to take on "Row Row" PJ Fleck and the Western Michigan Broncos. Much of the publicity around the game was Fleck's Row the Boat Meme..

Young, energetic, and boisterous Fleck was the exact opposite of Bill Cubit and had made Boat Rowing and "Flecking" beloved barbs for WMU opponents to use.

On the field the Broncos were struggling mightily, even dropping a decision to some pretty bad FCS competition.

Still, UB had never won in Kalamazoo and Quinn had a tendency to play down to his opponents, so when the score was just 6-0 at the half things looked bad. In the second half the line was playing better and three UB backs averaged more than five yards per carry as UB turned a tight game into a blowout.



UB Wins 5th Straight In Sloppy Fashion - Bull Run
The stormy weather was perfect for Brandon Oliver who became UB's all-time and finished with 41 carries for 216 yards and a touchdown. Licata had an efficient Licata day, 66.6% completion, 167 yards and 1 touchdown pass. The offense however struggled to get going, only scoring 3 field goals in the first 3 quarters.

Buffalo won every battle but did lose Alex Neutz to injury as the Bulls rolled over the Minutemen. Khalil Mack ended the game early with a Pick Six.

With the score at 10-3 and the defense playing great ball there was nothing to do but sit back and enjoy another blow out. In addition to losing Neutz the Bulls also lost offensive line leader and Senior Captain Jasen Carlson, and defensive line leader and Senior Captain... :-(  Colby Way.



Kent State vs Buffalo Quarter by Quarter Analysis - Bull Run
Just when it looked like Kent State was going to strike and re-gain the lead, KHALIL MACK happened, as he intercepted his third pass of the season and returned it inside opponent territory. The Bulls took advantage with a 17-yard run by Branden Oliver, his second TD of the day as they took a 20-7 lead into the break.

The Bulls look to have their grasp on the game now with the offense doing what they have to do to control the game, while the defense is making plays to keep Kent off the scoreboard. DB/LB Adam Redden was spotted on the sideline and will not return to the game with a knee injury.

Buffalo once again needed the defense to spark the offense and again it was Khalil Mack picking off a pass to provide that spark.

For the first time since 2008 the Bulls were bowl eligible and riding one of the school's longest-ever win streaks. The Bulls beat a seemingly decent Kent team and took aim at Frank Solich and Ohio.



What the Bulls did on the field against Ohio was magnificent, what the refs did to Ohio... Not so much.

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This was called a safety by the refs and unfortunately the "spot" of a penalty (in this case intentional grounding) is not reviewable.

NCAA Football Buffalo Bulls Beat Ohio into the turf - Bull Run
As much press as that call will get it was a bit part of a game where Buffalo ran Branden Oliver down the throat of the Ohio Bobcats. Oliver carried the ball 34 Times for 249 yards and two touchdowns. When Ohio tried to compensate for Oliver's dominating performance Sophomore Quarterback Joe Licata went over the top to Alex Neutz who caught four balls for 79 yards and two second half scores.

Ohio just had no answer for the UB running game or, on the other side, for Khalil Mack. UB's 7 game win streak was the longest single season run by a UB team going back to coach C.W. Dibble.

This was also the first "good" win of the season and it would eventually be UB's only win over a team bound for the postseason.


Final - 11.12.2013 1 2 3 4 Total
Buffalo Bulls 0 0 14 27 41
Toledo Rockets 21 10 7 13 51

Complete Coverage >


Toledo Rockets Past Buffalo - Bull Run
Going for their eighth straight victory, the Bulls laid an egg, trailing 38-0 before waking up on either side of the ball as Buffalo fell to Toledo 51-41 on a chilly night at the Glass Bowl. Buffalo trailed 31-0 going into halftime and appeared out-manned and out-coached on both sides of the ball.

Buffalo looked wholly unprepared in the first half but came alive to make a game of it in the later stages. Because of the strong finish some viewed this game as a hiccup for Buffalo but it revealed some fatal flaws in the Bulls which would be exploited by both Bowling Green and San Diego State.

First there was the continuing issue of slow offensive starts, then there was the poor performance of UB's secondary, and finally there was the Bulls vulnerability to teams that "stack the box". All three teams who beat UB in the later stages of the season did all three of these things.



Buffalo Dominates Winless Miami - Bull Run
In a game that went exactly according to the pregame script, Buffalo dominated as Khalil Mack made some NCAA history on his way to leading the Bulls to a 44-7 victory over Miami. After a slow first quarter, Buffalo dominated the second, scoring 28 points

After a tough loss against Toledo a game against winless Miami (OH, it's not hockey season) was just what the doctor ordered.

Khalil Mack used the game as a venue to break the NCAA all time forced fumbles record with one of the greatest individual halves of football ever played, and UB used it to guarantee the most regular season wins of the FBS era. The game also set up a MAC East title showdown with Bowling Green.



Bowling Green Puts End to Bulls MAC Championship Hopes - Bull Run
There was a plethora of storylines going into UB’s regular season finale against Bowling Green at Ralph Wilson Stadium Friday afternoon. Unfortunately for Bulls fans, the only headline to result from the contest was the one they didn't want to hear. Bowling Green dominated in the trenches as they put an end to UB’s MAC Championship hopes, defeating the Bulls 24-7 in front of 26,226 at the Ralph.

Despite taking a lead into the half Buffalo was outmuscled by Bowling Green, who stuffed the UB running game by stacking the box. The stalled UB offense and a handful of big Bowling Green passes made all the difference and the Falcons went on to the MAC title game while UB stayed home waiting for a bowl invitation.



San Diego Beats Buffalo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Bull Run
Buffalo is a senior laden team but on Saturday the San Diego Aztecs made them all look like freshman. Such is the risk of being a team full of players who've never played in a Bowl game before.

Khalil Mack and the Buffalo defense valiantly tried to keep the Bulls in the game but a flood of three and out possessions sprinkled with turnovers allowed San Diego to get a lead and then in the second quarter the Aztecs opened the flood gates.

UB traveled to Boise to take on the Aztecs of San Diego State but the Bulls seemed to have left their best football back East. A team which had played clean football all season had several turnovers deep in their own territory which allowed the Aztecs to blow the game open.

It was a disappointing end to a solid season. When a team loses their last two games of the season, and they are both meaningful games it can skew a fan's view of the entire year.

This year fans got to watch Khalil Mack win the Lambert trophy, set or tie two NCAA records, and be named an All-American, while Branden Oliver shattered school records, Alex Neutz set a receiving touchdown record and Joe Licata looked like the next Drew Willy.

There are serious hurdles to be faced by the coaching staff next season, but they are busy putting together one of the deeper recruiting classes in school history hoping that some of that talent might help Joe Licata lead the Bulls back to the postseason next year.

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