The University at Buffalo football team is back on the road after an up-and-down upset bid in Happy Valley, continuing a non-conference slate of undulating difficulty.
UB (1-1) plays on Saturday night (6 p.m., ESPN+, 1520 AM) in Lynchburg, Va. at Liberty (0-2), a program in its second season as a Division I FBS independent after transitioning from FCS, the same class as the Bulls’ season-opening opponent, Robert Morris.
The game in Oxford, Miss. was scheduled when Liberty was led by former UB coach Turner Gill, who resigned after last season due to his wife’s health issues. The Flames could have new coach Hugh Freeze back on the sidelines after surgery to treat a staph infection forced him to coach the opener from a hospital bed and the second game from a medical chair. Liberty lost 24-0 against Syracuse in week one and 35-14 at Louisiana-Lafayette last week.
“We’ve tried to tell our players, don’t get caught up looking at stats right now because it’s an explosive enough unit, explosive enough offensive scheme that they’re ready to break loose,” UB coach Lance Leipold said. “We need to make sure it’s not this week.”
After two weeks, the Bulls lead the Mid-American Conference in rushing defense (113 yards per game) and is second in pass defense (185.5).
UB was ahead 10-7 and had a 188 to 88 yardage advantage at halftime last week against Penn State before the No. 15 Nittany Lions roared back to win 45-13. The Bulls still finished with 429 to 357 edge in total yards and 42:32 time of possession, a Division I-era record.
Redshirt freshman Matt Myers showed promise throwing for 245 yards and a touchdown against Penn State after being limited to just 10 pass attempts against Robert Morris.
“I can’t tell you how many texts or comments people sent to me while watching that game, people in the profession, that were extremely impressed by the composure, let along the ability, of Matt Myers,” Leipold said. “Now he has to keep making strides and doing those things. You look at his jersey and there were grass stains on both sides of the jersey. He took some shots, kept battling, kept making throws, he threw the ball well downfield, got it to some different people, all those things. Very, very proud of him.”
Myers’ mobility, UB’s tailback tag team of Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks, and an offensive line that returns four starters have combined to produce 469 rushing yards through the first two games.
The Bulls are the only team in the MAC averaging more than 200 yards per game on the ground. UB is also one of just 26 FBS teams to allow one or fewer sacks so far this season.
Backup quarterback Kyle Vantrease will take over punting duties for UB after Ray Guy Award watch list member Evan Finegan was lost for the season from fracturing his fibula and tibia at Penn State.