Through the first half of this season, Lance Leipold every week preached consistency as a yet-unreached goal for his Buffalo team. Given the road game on a short week tonight against 1-7 Miami, you had to figure UB would want to put the RedHawks away early and not allow the hosts to hang around.
Neither goal came to pass despite the 29-24 Buffalo win. The Bulls scored 17 first-half points, but allowed Miami 17 as well. The RedHawks scored on defense, on a long, plodding drive, and with a few quick plays near the end of the half, erasing 3-0, 10-7, and 17-10 deficits to head into the break on an emotional boost. Fortunately, UB was able to take advantage of Miami mistakes and move the ball effectively in the third quarter to open a 29-17 lead that withstood the Bulls' inability to put Miami away thanks to a number of defensive stops right on the edge of the hosts' field goal range.
Jordan Johnson had a second consecutive 100-yard day, rushing 22 times for 113 yards and two scores in the first three quarters before finishing with 123, and Joe Licata threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns, both to Ron Willoughby along with an interception and at least three more errant passes that Miami should have picked off. Willoughby's second touchdown was the 70th TD pass of Licata's career.
Buffalo's kicking game vulnerabilities continue, but so does opponent's aggressiveness leading to penalties. Miami gifted the Bulls a pair of mulligans on field goal attempts that UB turned into touchdowns, but did also block an extra point and field goal attempt. A sluggish fourth quarter allowed Miami to crawl back within five points as UB failed to generate any offense late, even after an onside kick recovery when a single first down would have iced the game; UB had three three-and-outs and a three-and-blocked-field-goal in the fourth quarter.
Two Bulls set records tonight: Boise Ross with a pass breakup on the third play of the game; his 17th of the season, and Devin Campbell with his 1,628th career kick return yard. Other defensive standouts included Justin Brandon, who got after Billy Bahl for a number of hurries, and Brandon Berry, who had a handful of tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery.
On the whole, it's not a pleasing win, but it was a multiple-score game for much of the second half and does come on the shortest game-to-game turnaround in program history. Buffalo, now 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the MAC, stays on the road next week to take on Kent State, who, while bad this season, has shown more than the RedHawks and will have spent 12 days preparing for the Bulls.
The dreadful MAC "BECAUSE WE ARE MODEST" commercial played 18 times.