Buffalo took on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a close, tactical game. Each team fought hard on defense en route to a 17-7 Minnesota win. The Buffalo Bulls put up a strong fight that both gave hope to the Bulls’ season and cast doubt on Minnesota’s season.
Minnesota was led by the passing connection of Conor Rhoda and Tyler Johnson. The only things in their way were drops and this lone turnover:
Huge PICK for @UBFootball's Cameron Lewis! #UBHornsUp #MACtion pic.twitter.com/ycItYNoS1y— #MACtion (@MACSports) September 1, 2017
Despite persistent pressure on the quarterbacks, each side primarily focused on the passing game. For Minnesota, Conor Rhoda and Demry Croft each took snaps at quarterback. While Croft had a better accuracy, P.J. Fleck gave Rhoda the nod more often than Croft. In comparison to the uncertainty, Buffalo looked assured in Tyree Jackson. In the passing game, Minnesota barely edged out Buffalo 239-211 yards. Minnesota spread the ball to eight different receivers, while Buffalo threw primarily to Anthony Johnson. Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson did the most damage, racking up 141 receiving yards.
Buffalo struggled to get their rushing game up and running (forgive the pun). They tried three different rushers, but in the end Johnathan Hawkins earned 21 of their 51 yards. Minnesota earned the biggest leg up of the game by rushing for 169 yards. Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks split time running the ball. The Minnesota rushing attack really opened up toward the end of the game as Buffalo grew tired.
Minnesota opened the scoring first on a 61-yard pass from Conor Rhoda to Tyler Johnson. Buffalo answered back shortly with two quick passes from Tyree Jackson to Anthony Johnson, one for a 50 yard gain and then one for a 16-yard touchdown. Shannon Brooks finished off the last full drive of the first quarter for the Golden Gophers with a short touchdown run. Late in the second quarter, Buffalo’s Cameron Lewis intercepted a Conor Rhoda pass, denying Minnesota an easy scoring chance. This led to a 14-7 halftime score.
The third quarter was a defensive battle that saw no scoring. The fourth quarter was dominated by Minnesota running the clock out to preserve their feeble lead. Buffalo was met by a suddenly confident Minnesota defense. With two minutes left, Emmit Carpenter redeemed himself for a field goal. Buffalo’s last possession ended on an incomplete pass on fourth down, sealing the game for Minnesota.
Each team gave up opportunities in this battle of field position. Adam Mitcheson and Emmit Carpenter each missed two field goals, leaving easy points off the board. Minnesota blocked Mitcheson’s second field goal attempt. An interception in the second quarter prevented a Minnesota touchdown. Mid-way through the third quarter, Jacob Huff intercepted the ball for Minnesota off of a Tyree Jackson pass. Aside from those two interceptions, every drive ended with a punt. In the end, the difference was made with home field advantage with crowd control.
Minnesota improves to 1-0 and looks forward to their game Sept 9 at Oregon State. Buffalo is now 0-1 and will play at West Point against Army on the same date.