UB homecoming features Kool and the Gang, Bulls’ MAC opener
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • October 03, 2013 @ 10:50am
Riding a two-game winning streak into Mid-American Conference play, the UB Bulls will continue their bid for the program’s second-ever bowl game with a contest against Eastern Michigan (1-3, 0-1 MAC) during homecoming weekend.
Considerable hype will build before the noon kickoff on Saturday, as the UB Student Association’s carnival and a night of comedy by “Cash Cab” star Ben Bailey on Friday night will segue nicely into Kool and the Gang’s tailgate performance at 9:45 a.m. Saturday in the stadium parking lot.
The flurry of pre-game events sets the stage for the 2-2 Bulls football team that drubbed UConn last Saturday, 41-12, resulting in the firing of Huskies’ head coach Paul Pasqualoni. Tickets for UB’s clash against the Eagles are available for purchase here.
According to Vegas Insider, the Bulls stand as 13.5-point favorites.
UB’s defense was the story of the domination of Connecticut, forcing the Huskies into three interceptions and four total turnovers.
As a result, senior hybrid linebacker-safety Adam Redden was named UB’s male Athlete of the Week as well as Mid-American Conference East Division Defensive Player of the Week for his two sacks, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, forced fumble and fumble recovery against the Huskies.
For further ‘Immediate Reactions’ from UB’s non-conference win, look back at Saturday evening’s post.
Saturday’s homecoming visitors enter the game against UB on a three-game skid, most recently on the wrong end of a pounding by MAC foe Ball State, 51-20 at Eastern.
In contrast to UB’s +3 takeaway margin against Connecticut, Easter Michigan sits 11th in the MAC at (-1) for the season, turning over opponents just five times so far.
To make matters worse, Ron English’s program ranks the same in scoring defense as well, allowing opponents 37 points per game.
The Eagles finished 2012 with only two wins—including a league-worst 1-7 record against the MAC—and only have one winning season (1995) in the last two decades. Not surprisingly, Eastern Michigan was slotted in the West Division cellar in the conference’s preseason rankings.
Judging from Eastern Michigan’s leaky defense and the fact that it’s their final homecoming game, running back Branden Oliver and wide receiver Alex Neutz—UB’s two most productive skill players since James Starks and Naaman Roosevelt graduated in 2010—look poised for big afternoons.
Redshirt freshman tight end Mason Schreck has turned into a strong red-zone target, while redshirt sophomore QB Joe Licata’s development continues—remember he’ll be making only his ninth start as a collegiate quarterback.
On the defensive side of the ball, UB is firing on all cylinders, as Redden’s individual production underscored a unit that pressured UConn relentlessly, creating constant discomfort for UConn QB Chandler Whitmer.
UB cornerback Najja Johnson, defensive tackle Kristjan Sokoli, transfer linebacker Blake Bean and defensive end Beau Bachtelle were all disruptive, while the presence of Khalil Mack—who had an ‘average’ day of eight tackles, one sack and 1.5 tackles-for-loss—fostered opportunities for fellow defenders.
Eastern Michigan had the dubious recognition of not placing any athletes on Phil Steele’s preseason All-MAC first or second teams, as safety Donald Coleman (third team) and kicker Dylan Mulder (fourth team) were the lone Eagles on Steele’s list. For a frame of reference, UB boasted five players on the first team alone (Oliver, Neutz, Mack, Way, Johnson).
Saturday’s homecoming affair should be a game the Bulls win easily, as Eastern Michigan’s recent blowout to Ball State—combined with UB’s demoralizing beatdown of UConn—has the teams rolling in opposite directions.
(Game photos courtesy of Don Nieman from UB vs. UConn—see the full gallery here).