AMHERST — The University at Buffalo’s sophomore tailback tandem of Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks combined for 310 yards rushing to power the football team back to bowl eligibility.
Patterson gained 227 total yards and scored five touchdowns as the Bulls beat Toledo 49-30 on Wednesday night at UB Stadium to improve their record to 6-5. Marks added a season-high 118 yards and a touchdown.
UB is now assured of finishing with a .500 record or better, the minimum requirement for postseason play.
Patterson ran for a career-high 192 yards and four touchdowns while adding another 35 yards and a fifth score receiving. Playing in his 25th game with the Bulls, Patterson also moved into sixth on the school’s all-time list in rushing yards (2,341) and rushing touchdowns (25). His season total of 1,348 rushing yards currently ranks fifth all-time, five yards fewer than Niagara Falls native James Starks gained in 2008.
The five touchdowns tied a Mid-American Conference record shared by 20 players. Patterson is the first UB player with five touchdowns since Anthony Swan accomplished the feat on Sept. 2, 1995 against Fordham. Lou Corriere holds the school record with six rushing touchdowns against Hobart on Nov. 7, 1942. Bo Oliver, the Bulls all-time rushing leader who was on the sideline for Wednesday’s game, was the last UB player to rush for four touchdowns on Oct. 26, 2013 against Kent State.
UB quarterback Kyle Vantrease was 13 of 20 passing for 172 yards and a touchdown. Vantrease also scored on a 1-yard bootleg with 3:06 remaining when it appeared the Bulls would hand the ball off to Patterson for a record-setting score. UB is now 4-2 this season with Vantrease starting. Antonio Nunn caught five passes for 89 yards.
Bowl eligible for the third year in a row and fifth time since returning to Division I in 1999, the Bulls still might need a win over Bowling Green in next Friday’s regular season finale to secure a bowl game invitation.
Six wins wasn’t enough for UB to receive a bowl bid in 2017. Over the past two seasons, seven teams with six victories have been left out of the bowl picture. Three have been members of the MAC.
UB became the fifth bowl-eligible MAC team with Wednesday night’s win. MAC East division leader Miami is 6-4 but still must win one of its two remaining regular season games or the MAC championship to become bowl eligible. Ohio, one of the MAC teams UB has lost against this season, also is one win away from being in the mix for a bowl bid.
The MAC has tie-ins with five bowls and a conditional spot in a sixth. There currently are 66 teams eligible for 78 bowl game spots, with another 14 one win away from qualifying.
Unless UB loses in both its final regular season game and a a bowl, the Bulls will finish with a .500 or better record in three consecutive seasons for the first time since 1982-84.
UB went into halftime with the lead for the 10th time in 11 games, rushing for 184 yards to build a 28-20 advantage.
Patterson totaled 133 total and scored three touchdowns in the first half. He gained 105 yards and scored on a pair of 1-yard plunges. Patterson also took a short pass 24 yards for a touchdown one play after a Matt Otwinowski interception. Marks scored UB’s first touchdown on a 4-yard run.