For the 1958 season opener, Buffalo traveled to Cambridge to face Harvard for the second time in school history. In the first meeting, Buffalo fell 66-0, but that was a time when Harvard (12 national championships) and the Ivy's were a dominant force in college football. In 1958, Buffalo, aided by the rain, kept Harvard's offense at bay and announced their arrival on the national football scene.
Harvard scored on their first drive, a 25 yard field goal after a 53 play drive. After that, mental errors locked both teams into a stalemate. Buffalo could not cross the 50-yard line in the first half. In the second half, they finally had the ball in Harvard territory, although they did not technically cross the 50, they recovered a Harvard fumble on the 41. Buffalo drove to the 11, but the drive ended with a Gordan Bukaty fumble. On the following drive, Harvard gained no yards and punted from their own end zone. Nick Bottini slashed behind the line, blocked the punt, and fell on the ball in the end zone to give Buffalo the 6-3 lead.
The Special Teams play saved a Buffalo offense that committed 4 turnovers and gained only 95 yards. Harvard dominated with the run game, piling up 175 yards on the ground and grinding their way towards a touchdown. Phil Bamford saved the day, with an interception ending the Harvard threat.
Late in the fourth, Buffalo had the ball and the lead. Instead of running out the clock, a fumble gave Harvard the Ball in UB territory. Harvard drove to the 11, but on fourth down they went for the touchdown instead of the tying field goal. The Buffalo defense stood strong yet again, cutting the screen pass down at the 6, sealing the Buffalo victory.
The 3-1 bulls just lost their first game to Baldwin-Wallace. (Although coach Lee Tressel later forfeited the game for using an ineligible player) Columbia was not good in 1958, but it was big deal to play New York City's Ivy for the first time since 1902.
"The last time Columbia played in Buffalo was in September in 1901. There was a Roosevelt in the White House-Teddy. On the next morning, newspapers carried a headline reading, "Columbia wins by narrow margin." However the story did not refer to the football game. It referred to the victory of the yacht Columbia over Shamrock II in the opening race of the America's Cup series. The football game? It was won by Buffalo"
- Michael Strauss, New York Times October 26, 1958
Apparently after 27 years, news of the mascot change had not hit the Ivy league. Harvard put a Bison on the program in the opening game, and the NY Times saw fit to remind their readers of the name change. Harvard only drew a crowd of 6,000 fans for their opener against Buffalo, but Buffalo more than doubled that for the Columbia game at Civic Stadium; 13,074 showed up to see the Bulls knock Columbia down a peg.
Special teams played a large part again, Buffalo averaged 40 yards per kick return and 14 yards per punt return. This slanted the field position in Buffalo's favor and allowed UB to score often using 252 yards of rushing offense. Gordan Bukaty scored first with a 33 yard run. Then Steve Salasny and George Maue scored to give Buffalo a 20-6 lead at the half.
On Buffalo's first drive of the second half, Bukaty was ejected from the game for fighting. Columbia countered Buffalo's run game with an impressive passing game, and drove 75-yards for a touchdown, bringing the score to 20-14. With a backup QB and their lead down to a touchdown, UB could have let the game slip away.
Instead Buffalo returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield. On third and long, backup quarterback James Allegretto (1957's Passing and scoring leader) attempted a jump pass, but saw no one open. Under pressure he weakly threw the ball away to an empty area on the field. Out of nowhere, Maue came back to catch the pass, and ran to the 11 before being tracked down. Four plays later, Paul Syzmendera scored to give Buffalo some breathing room leading 27-14. Tom MacDougall finished the scoring with a 27 yard scamper and Buffalo won the match 34-14.