Bulls seek to reverse schneid vs. UConn on Saturday
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • September 25, 2013 @ 10:27am
The history between the UConn Huskies and the UB Bulls is quite one-sided, especially since UConn’s memorable 38-20 International Bowl thumping of the Bulls in January 2009.
Since Donald Brown’s personal explosion, the Huskies have reeled off three more wins over the Bulls in each of the last three seasons, outscoring the MAC foe 86-41 over that span. The 2013 version of UConn is considerably different than the dominant defenses of the past, however, and an 0-3 start has head coach Paul Pasqualoni (14 years at Syracuse) preaching patience for his young American Athletic Conference program.
UConn claws to Amherst for a 3:30 p.m. game on Saturday at UB Stadium, and country music artist Randy Houser highlights the pre-game festivities with a performance at 1:30 in UB’s Corporate Village. You can grab both individual and season tickets here.
Jeff Quinn’s Bulls stand at 1-2 overall, with a dramatic—if rather ugly—26-23 win over Stony Brook that took a record five overtimes. An encouraging season-opening clash against No. 2 Ohio State was followed by a 70-13 humbling at the hands of fast-paced Baylor.
The Bulls’ star tailback, senior Branden Oliver, missed the home opener against the Seawolves due to a knee injury that flared up in warmups, but according to today’s UB press conference and a tweet from The Buffalo News’ Bob DiCesare, ‘Bo’ will be healthy for Saturday against a defense that has conceded an average of 206 rushing yards over the season’s first three games, including 120 and two scores by Michigan’s Fitzgerald Toussaint, a combined 217 yards to Maryland’s duo of QB C.J. Brown and RB Brandon Ross, and a ridiculous 156 yards and two scores by Towson’s Terrance West.
Even if Oliver is eased back into the Bulls’ backfield, UB received a sterling performance from reserve back Anthone Taylor against Stony Brook, as the sophomore roared for 118 yards and two scores, including the game-winner in the fifth overtime session. Regardless, Oliver’s inclusion will be a welcomed sight for Bulls fans accustomed to seeing the bowling ball-esque back rumble over opponents or jitterbug by them for massive gains.
This isn’t the Husky defense that finished atop the Big East last year in total defense, as cornerback Dwayne Gratz (Jacksonville), linebacker Sio Moore (Oakland) and safety Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Tennessee) all were selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Defensive end Trevardo Williams went in the fourth round to Houston, too.
Only linebacker Yawin Smallwood and defensive end Jesse Joseph return as marquee contributors from last year’s lockdown defensive unit.
Despite all the turnover on the defensive side of the ball, UConn fought No. 15 Michigan to the bitter end, dropping a 24-21 decision to the perennial Big Ten contenders.
Buoyed on offense by junior QB Chandler Whitmer, who’s taken care of the ball better in 2013 than his 9:16 TD/INT ration of 2012, RB Lyle McCombs, who ran for 96 yards in the last meeting against Buffalo, and junior receiver Shakim Phillips (255 yards, three TDs despite missing the Michigan game with a hamstring injury), Pasqualoni’s squad can’t be overlooked despite their win-less record.
The Bulls will remain at home for the Mid-American Conference opener against Eastern Michigan at noon on Oct. 5.
(Photos from Don Nieman at the UB vs. Ohio State game for the Bulls’ season opener— full gallery here).