In what was easily one of the most crazy games I’ve seen in a long time Buffalo survived a furious second half comeback when a Nick Rice extra point sailed off to the right during the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.
From the very get go this was an odd game. Each programs special teams units were not to be seen in the first quarter.
After a quick three and out by Buffalo, ODU blocked a UB punt, setting up the offense in the red zone.
The Bulls defense held strong and ODU came out for a chip shot field goal.... Which was blocked and returned for a touchdown by C.J. Bazile.
After the defense shut down ODU on the ensuing drive they punted to Buffalo, and the Bulls offense went three and out. UB set up to punt the Ball.... And it was blocked, again.
This time the Defense was unable to win the battle of the short field and Old Dominion tied the game after a quick 26 yard drive.
What followed this was Old Dominion going to sleep for 15 minutes and doing everything in their power to hand Buffalo the game.
The ODU defense let UB roll off three long drives, the first of which was helped along by a couple of kye penalties. These two drives accounted for 210 yards of offense on a night when UB managed only 297.
But it was not just the offense that was rolling in the second quarter. The defense scooped up a fumble and retured it 67 yards and kept ODU completely off the board througout the period.
So we go into the locker room with the Bulls sporting a 28 point lead and all of the momentum.
What followed was probably the worst Buffalo offense I’ve seen in years, perhaps ever.
UB, in the second half managed the following offensive possessions
- 1 play, 8 seconds fumble
- 5 plays, 2:27, 18 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 1:08, 6 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 1:08, 3 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 2:07, 7 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 1:04, 6 yards, punt
That was the sum of the second half offense. The average drive was 3 plays, 8 yards, and lasted a shade over a minute.
ODU took advantage of this by piling on a tired Buffalo defense. It helps that after a first half of pretty sloppy play the ODU receivers became very sure handed, but being on the field for 23 minutes in a half is a lot to ask of a defense.
It also does not help when you’re committing a bevy of 15 yard penalties, as the Bulls seemed to be doing.
So as UB floundered, in every aspect of the game, ODU started to chip away at the lead until, on 4th and 11 with 19 seconds left, Zack Kuntz pulled down a pass in the endzone to bring ODU to within a point.
Thankfully, for Buffalo, an ODU player ran off the sidelines to celebrate and was nailed for an unsportsmanlike moving the short special point to a 32 yard fieldgoal attempt which looked good coming off the foot of Nick Rice, but ended up sailing to the right.
So UB survives and finished the first third of their season at 2-2. But rather than surging into conference play the Bulls are left wondering what went wrong for their offense in the second half?
When is the last time you remember a UB team rushing for 2.8 yards per carry? When was the last time you’ve seen KVT make so many poor decisions and try to force the ball?
Can Shane Montgomery make this offense work well enough to pull off 5-6 wins in conference?
Which UB Offense is the real UB? The one that pushed Coastal Carolina to the brink? or the one that ODU treated like a chew toy?
And as a guy who’s been covering this team for 14 or so years, I’m left with more questions now than I have had in any other season after non conference play. We have seen that the talent is there to win. Was Maurice Linguist given enough time to get this team ready for a winning season?
Next week the Bulls take on a very solid Western Michigan team, and the week after that Kent. These are among the best teams on UB’s remaining schedule and could shape how conference play shakes out.