The Buffalo Bulls have some serious mojo working right now. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the UMass Minutemen are back to reality after a one-game winning "streak". On Saturday, the two met at the University of Buffalo, and the Bulls came away with a lopsided 32-3 victory. The win catapulted UB into a tie with Bowling Green for first place in the Mid-American Conference's Eastern Division.
As in some of Buffalo's other games, the Bulls' offense struggled some out of the gate, and that kept the game close through halftime. In fact, Buffalo didn't score a touchdown via offense until the fourth quarter. But the game was never really in question; UMass simply had no answers for Buffalo's defense.
The two teams traded punts on the first four possessions of the game, but Buffalo finally received a break on the second UMass punt. Backed up at his own 16, Colter Johnson's punt traveled just 32 yards and was fair caught by Alex Neutz at the UMass 48. UB drove 21 yards in five plays to earn the first points of the game. A holding penalty hurt the drive, but Patrick Clarke kicked a 44-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter, to give Buffalo a 3-0 lead.
The teams exchanged another set of punts, but on the fourth UMass drive of the game, Khalil Mack did what Khalil Mack does. On 3rd-and-2 from the UMass 28, A.J. Doyle dropped back to pass while Mack dropped back into coverage. Doyle threw from the left to the right hash and right into Mack's waiting arms. Mack returned the interception right up the middle and, 35 yards later, trotted into the end zone for a 10-0 Buffalo lead.
After another Massachusetts punt, the Bulls went on their longest march of the day. Their drive totaled 13 plays and 63 yards, and it took 5:43 off the clock. Branden Oliver carried the ball eight times during the possession, and Clarke's 36-yard field goal capped it. With just 0:39 left in the half, it appeared that Buffalo would go into the break with a 13-0 lead. However, Trey Dudley-Giles returned the kickoff 39 yards to give the Minutemen good field positioin. Then, on perhaps the team's best play of the day from scrimmage, Doyle connected for 27 yards to Elgin Long. The play allowed UMass to send Blake Lucas into the game for a 42-yard field goal attempt. He connected, and the score was 13-3 at the half.
Buffalo started their first drive of the second half in great field position at their own 44 after Colter Johnson had another sub-40-yard punt from deep in his own territory. The Bulls parlayed that field position into another Clarke field goal, this time from 27 yards, and a 16-0 lead. The Minutemen tried to answer and drove deep into Buffalo territory, but Doyle fumbled on back-to-back plays. Buffalo's Adam Redden recovered the second fumble to kill the UMass drive.
The Bulls drove downfield again but missed out on more points when Clarke missed 43-yard field goal that hit the left upright. However, more points did end up on the scoreboard shortly thereafter. An exchange of punts pinned UMass back at their own 1 yard line with 0:27 left in the third quarter. Doyle handed the ball to Jamal Wilson in order to (try to) get UMass some breathing room, but Redden and Okoye Houston combined to keep Wilson in the end zone for a safety. The two-point play gave Buffalo an 18-3 lead at the end of the quarter.
The free kick after the safety gave UB possession at their own 44, and they finally got their offense into the end zone. After four successful plays and a Massachusetts personal foul, Buffalo's Fred Lee hauled in a seven-yard touchdown pass from Joe Licata. Clarke's extra point made the score 25-3. Later in the quarter, Buffalo scored their final points on a 10-play, 67-yard drive. Oliver again carried the ball eight times, and the eighth attempt was a five-yard touchdown run.
Buffalo's offense posted 382 total yards, including 215 on the ground. Their defense held UMass to just 247 yards, and their rushing defense was particularly good. The Minutemen gained just 85 yards on 33 carries. They also forced three crucial turnovers. UMass hurt themselves, as well, with seven penalties for 72 yards.
Licata was efficient for the Bulls. He was 18-for-27 with 167 yards and a touchdown, as well as zero turnovers. Lee, who caught Licata's touchdown pass, gathered in eight catches in total for 70 yards. Oliver toted the rock 43 times for 216 yards and a touchdown. Redden led the defensive effort with 12 tackles (including a half-sack and two tackles for loss), a fumble recovery and a pass break-up. Mack had just three tackles, but two were for loss. One of the tackles was also a sack of Doyle. In addition to his pick-six, he also had a pass break-up.
For UMass, Doyle completed just 50 percent of his 28 passes for 162 yards. He had no touchdowns, one interception and was sacked three times. Half of his 14 completions went to Tajae Sharpe. Sharpe turned those seven catches into 94 yards. Wilson carried the ball 15 times for just 42 yards. Doyle added 22 yards of his own on nine carries.
Massachusetts drops to 1-6 overall and 1-2 in MAC play with the loss. However, they will have another good opportunity to win next week, as they host winless Western Michigan in Foxboro, Mass. at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. The contest will be televised online by ESPN3.
Buffalo improves to 5-2 overall, and their 3-0 record in the MAC is now tied with Bowling Green in the Eastern Division. Their next game is in Kent, Ohio next Saturday against Kent State. The game will be at 3:30 p.m. and can be seen online via ESPN3 or on the Time Warner Cable Sports Channel.
More from Hustle Belt:
- After Big Win, Louisville Loss, Are Northern Illinois' BCS Hopes Revived?
- College Football Rankings Week 9: Northern Illinois Doesn't Benefit From Louisville's Loss
- Buffalo Extends Dominant Streak in 32-3 Rout of UMass
- Kent State Suffers 38-21 Mauling By South Alabama Jaguars
- WATCH: Khalil Mack Outscored UMass' Offense On This Pick-6