Joe Licata is one of the Mid-American Conference’s best passers so it was odd to hear that Bowling Green wanted the University at Buffalo quarterback to pass the ball as much as possible. The flip side, of course, is watching Branden Oliver dart into the second level of the defense and perhaps roam freely in the secondary and beyond.
The Falcons could live with Licata’s passing but footage from the Bo Oliver Show can be an eyesore for opponents. Bowling Green silenced both in UB’s crushing 24-7 Black Friday loss at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Licata struggled from the start, completing just 21 of 45 for 221 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. The offense line didn’t offer much support - not that anyone was open in BG’s lethal secondary and he was sacked five times.
Meanwhile Oliver, a source of frustration for the opposition through this season, rushed for just 46 yards on 18 carries – the first time he’s been held under 100 yards in MAC play – but scored the Bulls’ only touchdown from 2 yards out in the second quarter.
The Bulls rushed for just 29 yards in their season final loss against Bowling Green last season and the challenge for the run game was avoiding a rerun. UB totaled 15 yards on Friday.
“We wanted to try and make them throw it,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. “We wanted them to throw it, we were going to defend Branden Oliver. We were going to make sure we were filling gaps. We had to stop him. He’s what makes them go.”
Oliver, however, broke his own single-season UB rushing mark which now stands at 1,421 yards.
UB took the opportunity of a game at The Ralph to publicly launch the East Club initiative at UB Stadium.
Athletic director Danny White and Pete Augustine, president of New Era Cap and chairman of the UB athletics Initiative Advisory Board, presented the East Club plan to an audience of about 150 in the Van Miller Club a couple hours before kickoff Friday.
The East Club initiative calls for a climate-controlled concourse at UB Stadium with seating for 1,600. UB has $2.5 million in commitments thus far (about 250 seats) and can proceed with construction once it hits the $10 million level.
White noted that in addition to enhancing the game-viewing experience, the East Club will generate a revenue stream earmarked to build new facilities or enhance existing venues.
“Facilities is where we have the most catching up to do,” White said. “The good news is we can fix this pretty quickly.”
UB is one of the few schools in the MAC without a field house that doubles as a football practice facility.
Augustine, a 1987 graduate, spoke of UB needing to shed its standing as “an AAU institution that is relatively anonymous on the national landscape.
“We want to own New York State, plain and simple,” he said.
White told The News the goal is to have the necessary funds secured by September and the project complete by the 2016 season. Membership in the East Club requires a capital contribution of $10,000-$12,000 spread over a 10-year period.
Butkus Award semifinalist Khalil Mack tied the NCAA record held by Western Michigan’s Jason Babin for tackles for a loss with 75. Mack, who registered a game-high 12 tackles, had 2.5 TFLs in Friday’s contest but a record always takes a back seat to winning for the senior linebacker.
“I can’t even celebrate that at all right now,” he said. “We wanted to get this win. That was all that was on my mind today.”
It was indeed a special day for Clawson, the Youngstown native and one-time quarterback at Lew-Port High School, who led the Falcons to their first outright divisional championship in 10 seasons.
“It’s a rewarding process and it’s getting the right people on board and we did that in terms of our staff and players,” Clawson said. “We recruited good people and I have a great coaching staff. This is a collective effort.”
Clawson, who evened his record at Bowling Green to 31-31, also coached at UB for two seasons (1991-92). He said he visited a high school friend on Thanksgiving but the goal of the trip was to win the MAC East title.
“This is where I grew up, this is home but I didn’t want it to be about me,” Clawson said. “It’s about our football team, this is a business trip. To not devote everything we have to the players in that locker room that have done so much for this program ... but when the game is over and I have a few of my buddies there that’s pretty neat.”