Taking A Look At The Buffalo Bulls
After the drubbing Penn State received from Temple, this week’s football game has become a little bit more important. Many fans are asking the same question: Who the heck are the Buffalo Bulls? Coming from the Mid-American Conference, that’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask. Here’s everything you need to know about Penn State’s foe come Saturday.
Buffalo’s football program is not exactly filled with a rich tradition or history. After dropping the program in 1970, Buffalo didn’t return to Division I status until 1999 when they joined the MAC, the conference in which they have resided since. The Bulls struggled for much of the early 2000s, until 2008 when they won their first and only MAC Championship under head coach Turner Gil. They’ve been to two bowl games — the 2009 International Bowl and the 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — since their return to FBS, having lost both times.
This isn’t the first time Penn State and Buffalo will face off. The first meeting came in 1900, six years before Rip Engle was even born. The most recent meeting came in 2007 when Anthony Morelli led the 12th-ranked Nittany Lions to a 45-24 win.
Lance Leipold is in his first season at the helm for the Bulls, but he brings a new found winning culture to Buffalo. He was previously the head coach at Division III program Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he quickly rose to prominence after building a winner. In his eight seasons with the team, he won 109 games to only six loses. Yes, 109-6. He won six NCAA Division III National Championships, and was a perfect 15-0 in five of those seasons.
While making the jump from Division III to a Division I program is steep, Leipold started off his tenure with a victory, winning 51-14 over Albany last weekend.
Three Players to Watch
Quarterback Joe Licata: A fourth-year starter for Buffalo, Licata is an experienced, savvy quarterback. The 6-foot-2, 210 pound senior is looking to build on a strong junior season where he threw 29 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions. While he’s not an exceptional athlete, he’s smart player who’s accurate with the football.
Running Back Antoine Taylor: Another senior for the Bulls, Taylor returns for his final season after running for 1,403 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014. At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, Taylor is a solidly built back that could wreak havoc against a linebacking corps that’s missing Nyeem Wartman-White.
Linebacker Okezie Alozie: One of only three defensive returning starters, Alozie could be a big factor against a struggling Nittany Lion offensive line. While undersized at 6-foot-0, 217 pounds, the senior linebacker will be called upon to blitz off the edge where he’ll be hoping to find the same success that Temple’s linebackers did last Saturday.
While Buffalo certainly won’t be mistaken for a juggernaut, they don’t seem like they’re a dreadful MAC bottom feeder either. The Bulls return a decent amount of experience offensively, and they have a head coach who knows how to win. That being said, while they might win enough games this season to become bowl eligible, there’s no reason Penn State should struggle against the Bulls. I know that might be difficult for Penn State fans to comprehend after last week’s performance, but Buffalo lacks both the the talent and the experience of Temple’s front seven. If Penn State doesn’t win comfortably this Saturday, then it really will be time to push the panic button.