Buffalo, NY— Fueled by a tough loss in its Mid-American Conference opener against Ball State last Saturday, the University at Buffalo football team (1-2) will host Big East opponent Connecticut (1-2) Saturday evening at 6 pm for the annual homecoming game.
In the last game out against the Cardinals, Buffalo got out to an early 7-0 lead on a gadget play pass from Terrell Jackson to Marcus Rivers on the very first drive, but it was followed by a seven-possession drought in which Ball State took a 21-7 lead into the half. UB had never beaten a Western Division opponent on the road, but looked ready to take their first victory with a strong second half.
Sophomore running back Branden Oliver went over 100 yards for the third consecutive game, racking up 118 yards on 27 touches with a 10-yard touchdown run in the mix. He is now only the second player in Division I-A history to do so, joining current Green Bay Packer James Starks. As a team, the Bulls out-rushed Ball State with 177 total yards on the ground.
Senior quarterback Chazz Anderson threw for 149 and a touchdown and added 59 rushing yards and another score on a QB sneak. His big play came on a 45-yard touchdown strike to Alex Neutz, who finished his day with 78 yards on four catches. Marcus Rivers had six catches for 74 yards and the touchdown catch from Jackson
"The one thing that really jumped out at me personally is the way our kids battled back in the second half," Head Coach Jeff Quinn said. "At halftime we had a discussion and the kids responded. I don't think a year ago we could have done that – being on the road and down 18 points but being able to take the lead."
While the Bulls defense again looked strong, the Cardinal offense drove 75 yards in the final minutes, capping the game with a score with 29 seconds left on the clock. Khalil Mack continued to hassle the opposing offense, racking up 11 total tackles (two for a loss) while Jaleel Verser also pitched in 11 takedowns and a blocked punt.
"There's so much room for improvement here and that's why we need to get back to the basics and keep coaching the fundamentals," Quinn said.
Neutz is familiar with what the Huskies defense will offer after taking on the Huskies in East Hartford last season.
"It's a good measuring stick. They're a good team. I think it's going to be a good test for us to see where we stand as a program and if we're ready to take the next step," Neutz said.
"These guys are a just a classic Big East team. They're a solid group of guys," Quinn added. "They play hard, play with effort, and well coached. It's going to take everything we have to measure up."
UConn leads the series against Buffalo 14-4, with the Huskies taking 9 of the last 10 meetings against UB that includes last season's 45-21 win at home. Last Saturday, the Huskies saw its 10-game home win streak end in a 24-20 loss to Iowa State thanks to a fourth-quarter score from the Cyclones. In the game before, the Huskies were again upset by Vanderbilt, who used 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to earn a 24-21 win. UCONN's lone win this season came in the opener against Fordham, a 35-3 romp.
In honor of homecoming, True Blue will be hosting a Homecoming Tailgate before the football game. The party will include a DJ, carnival games, bounce houses, face painting, contests, prizes and much more. President Satish K. Tripathi will greet attendees. Refreshments will be available for purchase and the free event is open to the entire UB community. No registration is needed.
Again this week, True Blue Avenue will be open for student tailgating from 2-6 pm. With live music, free body painting and open grills, it's the perfect location for student tailgating. The first 200 fans can enjoy free hot dogs and hamburgers.
Then at 3:30 p.m. the UB Football team, Thunder of the East Marching Band and Cheerleaders will "Walk to Victory" through True Blue Avenue, allowing fans to cheer them on as they march to UB Stadium.
Tickets for Saturday's game are still on sale. For ticket information, click here. The game will be televised on SNY and streamed on ESPN3.com with the radio broadcast on 1230 AM WECK in Buffalo, or 1280 AM WHTK and 107.3 FM WHTK in Rochester.