The University at Buffalo can’t be accused of ducking competition or avoiding challenges.
Not only are the Bulls playing on the road in back-to-back weeks to start the season, they’re playing ranked opponents in consecutive weeks for the first time in school history when they face No. 23 Baylor (1-0) on Saturday in Waco, Texas.
“There’s not a lot of programs out there that have had to face that challenge against two top-ranked teams but at the end of the day it is what it is,” Quinn said. “You’ve got to come ready to play each and every week no matter what circumstances are.”
UB (0-1) lost at No. 2 Ohio State last Saturday, 40-20, and now take on the Bears, who dismantled FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) Wofford last Saturday by 66 points. Some anticipated a similar score when the Bulls played at Ohio Stadium but UB viewed last week as a bit of a statement game and something to build on.
“It definitely helps going against the No. 2 team in the nation and it shows everyone on the team that we’re not that much below everyone else,” said senior left guard Jasen Carlson, the Southwestern product. “We went out there and competed as hard as we could. The score doesn’t really show it but I think if you watch the game and look for certain things, we played very well. We did things not a lot of people thought we could against a team like Ohio State.”
The Bulls responded well after trailing 23-0 in the first quarter then outscoring the Buckeyes, 20-17, the rest of the game.
In its last two season openers Ohio State blasted Akron and Miami (Ohio) by a combined 98-10. It was only the second time in 10 years that the Buckeyes allowed 20 points in a season opener.
“We were preparing for Ohio State all summer but in the back of our minds we also knew we had this game in Week 2. Then our MAC schedule following,” Carlson said. “Obviously it’s tough with the loss but we have a 24-hour rule where we think about the game from last week 24 hours and then you forget about it and you move on to the next game.”
The Bears present a new set of issues. Their offense is dauntless, having topped 600-plus yards in three of its last four games, including 692 against Wofford.
“Our confidence is higher as far as what we can do ourselves,” Carlson said. “Baylor is a great team, they have good defensive personnel and we’re going to keep working this week and hopefully put ourselves in a situation where we can go out to compete and win this week.”
These are good times for Baylor, the one-time college football laughing stock.
The Bears failed to finish above .500 from 1995-2009 but are 26-14 since the start of the 2010 season and are currently riding a five-game win streak.
“At one time it was probably not where it wanted to be or where they thought they needed to be but eventually they brought in some key players like we have,” Quinn said. “They found a way to develop them and now look at where they’re at. That’s the beauty of building a program.”
Baylor freshman Brian Nance Jr. is a Buffalo native and the cousin of Domonic Cook, a four-year starter at cornerback for UB and a graduate of St. Joe’s.
An All-America linebacker, Nance signed with Baylor in 2012 but first attended Hargrave Military Academy before enrolling at Baylor last January. He participated in spring drills, bulked up to 250 pounds and is now playing defensive end. He didn’t play last week against Wofford, an indication he will probably redshirt this year.
There are no changes to the Bulls two-deep. Kendall Patterson, a 6-foot, 260-pound sophomore, is the lone fullback on the roster after senior Boomer Brock (Iroquois) suffered a torn ACL last week in practice. Patterson was converted from nose guard to fullback during training camp two weeks ago.
UB’s secondary coach Maurice Linguist was an All-Big 12 safety for Baylor and graduated from the school in 2006. … This is the Bulls third trip to Texas. UB defeated Texas-El Paso, 23-17, in 2009 and lost to Baylor, 34-6, in 2010. … UB is 0-3 against opponents from the Big 12. The Bulls are 0-2 against Baylor and lost at Iowa State in 1968. Also, UB lost to Missouri, now of the SEC, in 2008 when the Tigers were Big 12 members.