Lance Leipold

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Four fumbles cost Buffalo in Dollar General Bowl as Troy celebrates third-straight bowl victory

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Buffalo (10-4) had a case of fumblitis in the Dollar General Bowl Saturday night, and it cost them. The Bulls were defeated by Troy (10-3), 42-32, as the Bulls fumbled the football six times, losing four.

In the third quarter, Troy managed to pull off the kind of feat you are probably more likely to see from a triple-option offense like Army. The Trojans managed to keep the Buffalo offense off the field for the entire third quarter. The Trojans opened the half with the football and scored. They then pulled off a brilliantly executed onside kick to keep possession of the football and drove the ball down to the six-yard line. But a fumble by B.J. Smith was picked up by Buffalo’s Tyrone Hill, who raced down the field 93 yards for a defensive touchdown to give Buffalo the lead, 24-21.

Troy’s offense went right back to work on the ensuing possession though, traveling 69 yards over 12 plays to retake the lead, 28-24, on a Damion Willis touchdown reception from the two-yard line. After sitting on the sideline or in the locker room for a little more than an hour, Buffalo’s offense finally got back on the field early in the fourth quarter, only to go three-and-out. Troy would add to their lead on the next drive with a quick three-play drive for a touchdown. Sawyer Smith completed a 45-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Davis to extend the lead to 35-24.

Buffalo was down but not out. The Bulls charged forward with a 10-play drive ending in the end zone with a Tyree Jackson touchdown pass to K.J. Osborn, and a successful two-point conversion brought Buffalo within three. The Buffalo defense then forced Troy to punt as the time was continuing to become a factor. Starting with the football at their 21-yard line and about three and a half minutes to play, Buffalo’s hopes of another score were quickly tossed aside when Jackson fumbled the ball away. It took Troy just one play to run right up the middle for a dagger of a touchdown with Sidney Davis reaching the end zone on a 20-yard run on the first play from scrimmage.

Although this was the most successful season in Buffalo history, the Bulls see their season left unfulfilled. Buffalo lost the MAC Championship Game against Northern Illinois that came into the game with five losses and then end the year with a loss in a bowl game. Buffalo’s search for their first bowl victory in program history continues. Things may have ended on a sour note for Buffalo this season, but that should not take away from the continued success head coach Lance Leipold is having with the program. In his fourth season on the job, Leipold has coached Buffalo to a school-record for wins in a single season and the bar has been raised moving forward.

Neal Brown continues to be doing a solid job at Troy as well. The win over Buffalo clinched a third-consecutive 10-win season for the Trojans, each finishing with a victory in a bowl game. Troy has gone a combined 31-8 in the past three seasons after going 4-8 in Brown’s first season as head coach of the program in 2015.

The loss by Buffalo dropped the MAC to a woeful bowl record of 1-5 as the conference wrapped up its bowl schedule. Ohio scored the only bowl victory for the conference this season while the rest of the MAC’s bowl teams lost by a combined 70 points, including losses by both division winners in the conference this season. The Sun Belt Conference has one more team in action this bowl season (Arkansas State), and currently holds a bowl record of 3-1. The win by Troy clinched a winning bowl season for the conference for the third straight season (11-4 in bowl games since 2017).

Buffalo adds former Minnesota QB coach to staff

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In need of a boost to its passing game, Buffalo has hired former Minnesota assistant Jim Zebrowski. Zebrowski will serve as the team’s new quarterbacks coach with plenty of experience to offer the program. He will take over the role previously held by Andy Kotelnicki, who has been reassigned to be the running backs coach and retains the role of offensive coordinator.

“We’re excited to add Jim to the staff,” Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold said in a released statement. “He is highly regarded in the coaching ranks and has a proven track record of developing quarterbacks. He has previously worked with several members of our staff and has an understanding of our offensive philosophy, which should make the transition easier.”

Zebrowski was a quarterbacks coach at Minnesota from 2011 through 2015, where he developed a solid reputation through working with Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner. Zebrowski also made a name for himself in the MAC having worked at Northern Illinois with former All-MAC QB Chandler Harnish (Zebrowski left NIU before Jordan Lynch picked up the torch for the Huskies offense, but many credit the work done by Zebrowski in the offensive system for helping pave the way for the school’s all-time best QB.

Zebrowski is also a former assistant for Leipold. Zebrowski was a part of Leipold’s staff bat Division 3 powerhouse Wisconsin-Whitewater from 2007 through 2009.

Buffalo ranked 122nd in the nation in passer rating  (although two MAC schools finished with a lower rating; Bowling Green and Kent State) and totaled 11 passing touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

FBS head coaching carousel comes to a full and complete stop

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It all got started before mid-September and lasted until the beginning of February. This past season’s edition of the coaching carousel went on a tad longer than perhaps anyone could have imagined, but with Central Michigan officially introducing John Bonamego as its new head coach today, we now have closed the book on head coaching changes among major college football programs.

Hopefully, at least.

In all we saw 15 head coaching changes at the FBS level, including seven from power conferences. Three of those power conference coaching changes came in the Big Ten, with Michigan and Nebraska each turning a page with their respective programs and Wisconsin having to react to losing a coach to the Pac-12.

Ready for a quick trip down memory lane? Here is a walk-through of the timeline of events regarding this now completed coaching carousel.

Coaching Carousel Timeline

  • September 8, 2014 – SMU head coach June Jones announces his resignation from the head coaching position. SMU names defensive coordinator Tom Mason interim head coach for the remainder of 2014 season.
  • September 28, 2014 – Kansas head coach Charlie Weis relieved of his duties. Kansas names defensive coordinator Clint Bowen interim head coach.
  • October 5, 2014 – Troy head coach Larry Blakeney announces he will resign at end of 2014 season.
  • October 13, 2014 – Buffalo relieves Jeff Quinn of his duties. Buffalo names Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Alex Wood interim head coach.
  • November 16, 2014 – Florida announces Will Muschamp will be dismissed at the end of the regular season.
  • November 28, 2014 – UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck resigns from position.
  • November 30, 2014 – Nebraska fires Bo Pelini, effective immediately. Running game coordinator Barney Cotton named interim coach for bowl game.
  • November 30, 2014 – Troy announces Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown will be new head coach.
  • November 30, 2014 – SMU announces it will hire Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris to be new head coach.
  • November 30, 2014 – Buffalo hires Wisconsin-Whitewater head coach Lance Leipold to be new head coach.
  • December 1, 2014 – Tulsa fires head coach Bill Blankenship.
  • December 2, 2014 – Michigan fires head coach Brady Hoke.
  • December 4, 2014 – Florida hires Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain to be new head coach.
  • December 4, 2014 – Nebraska hires Oregon State head coach Mike Riley to be new head coach.
  • December 5, 2014 – Kansas hires Texas A&M wide receivers coach David Beaty to be new head coach.
  • December 8, 2014 – Houston relieves head coach Tony Levine of duties.
  • December 8, 2014 – UNLV reportedly set to hire Bishop Gorman High School (NV) head coach Tony Sanchez as new head coach.
  • December 10, 2014 – Oregon State hires Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen to be new head coach.
  • December 11, 2014 – Tulsa hires Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery to be new head coach.
  • December 12, 2014 – Wisconsin hires Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst to be new head coach.
  • December 15, 2014 – Houston hires Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Tom Herman to be new head coach.
  • December 22, 2014 – Colorado State hires Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to be new head coach.
  • December 26, 2014 – Pittsburgh hires Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to be new head coach.
  • December 29, 2014 – Michigan hires former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh to be new head coach.
  • January 22, 2015 – Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos leaves job to accept position as Arkansas offensive coordinator.
  • February 8, 2015 – Central Michigan hires Detroit Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego as new head coach.