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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).

Northern Illinois caps remarkable second half rally to beat Buffalo and capture MAC title

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Northern Illinois was out of it. Down 29-10, the Huskies had just thrown an interception and looked like they were about to get run out of Ford Field by Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game.

Never say never when it comes to #MACtion however.

The Huskies used a 35 yard touchdown pass to D.J. Brown in the final 70 seconds to cap off a remarkable second half rally to beat the Bulls 30-29 on Friday night in a thrilling start to conference championship weekend in college football.

After a lackluster first half in the school’s seventh title game appearance in the last nine years, QB Marcus Childers and company eventually found their groove on offense to turn a likely loss into a wild win. The signal-caller wound up throwing for an even 300 yards and four touchdowns, moving past an absolute arm punt of an interception early on to find Brown deep for the game-winning score and leading the team in rushing with 58 yards for good measure.

Not to be out done, Huskies star pass rusher Sutton Smith also flashed plenty in the game with numerous quarterback hurries and added two sacks in an impact performance down the stretch from the conference’s player of the year.

The rally stunned many on the Buffalo sidelines given their big early lead and the possibility of securing the school’s second conference title ever and first in a full decade. Quarterback Tyree Jackson threw for 252 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the big stage, but was harassed quite a bit by Smith in the second half and failed to move the sticks much after emerging from halftime. He did make several impressive throws in tight windows while hooking up with star receiver Anthony Johnson (124 yards, two scores) but the two just couldn’t get in position for a late field goal to nab the win in a game they controlled for much of the night.

Bulls tailback Jaret Patterson did set a school freshman record for rushing yards in a season after recording 72 on the ground in the game and found the end zone once (teammate Kevin Marks added another 72 yards and also had a TD) as the program set a single-season record for points scored and yards rushing in coming up just short of an 11th win.

As a result, NIU remains Buffalo’s boogeyman as the Huskies are the only program in the MAC the Bulls have not beaten since joining the conference — dropping to 0-11 overall since moving to the FBS level. A berth in either the Camellia Bowl or Dollar General Bowl likely awaits the team, which will no doubt be wondering what could have been despite reaching double-digit wins for the first time ever.

Rod Carey’s group may also be left wondering how that game came about but won’t argue with the final score, which gives the program their fifth MAC title overall and second with their head coach. The team had started slow to begin the year, ran off six straight wins and then were slumping coming into the weekend but used a little bit of magic when it mattered most to wind up as top dogs yet again as college football’s first championship trophy was handed out this season in Detroit.

Buffalo holds off Miami in shootout, maintains MAC East lead

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Tuesday night MACtion returned to the nation’s television screens — and streaming devices — and, as is ofttimes the case, it didn’t fail to deliver an entertaining appetizer to the weekend’s main course.

On the strength of six total touchdowns from the arm and legs of Tyree Jackson, Buffalo outlasted Miami (OH) in a wild 51-42 shootout to maintain control of the MAC East race.  The game was a back and forth affair throughout, featuring five ties and the same number of lead changes.

The Bulls took its biggest lead of the game at 42-28 with just under five minutes left in the third quarter; however, a 59-yard Gus Ragland pulled the RedHawks to within seven less than three minutes later.  A successful onsides kick after that score led to a Ragland one-yard touchdown run with just 17 seconds left in the third to once again knot the score, this time at 42-all.

Jaret Patterson‘s four-yard touchdown run — the only non-Jackson touchdown of the night for the Bulls — midway through the fourth stretched the lead to 48-42 as the point-after failed;  Adam Mitcheson‘s 37-yard field goal with 3:54 left put the game out of reach thanks to turnovers on the RedHawks’ final two possessions — a lost fumble with just over two minutes remaining and giving the ball back on downs just over a minute later.

The 6-7, 245-pound Jackson threw for a season-high 358 yards and three touchdown passes while adding another three touchdowns on the ground.  Anthony Johnson caught all three of Jackson’s touchdown passes, totaling a career-high 238 yards on his eight catches.

Ragland passed for 313 yards in a losing effort, his second straight 300-yard effort and third of the season. The senior also matched Jackson’s three touchdowns on the ground.

With the win, Buffalo improved to 5-0 in MAC play, while Miami fell to 3-2.  If Ohio can get past Western Michigan (6-3 overall, 4-1 in MAC play) Thursday night, the Bobcats would exit Week 10 a game behind the Bulls at 4-1 in the conference and keep the two East teams on a collision course for a Nov. 14 meeting that will likely decide the division’s representative in the conference championship game.

Biletnikoff Award watch list highlighted by 2017 finalist David Sills

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  Yet another watch list.

The latest to release theirs is the Biletnikoff Award, with the honor going to the nation’s top receiver issuing a list consisting of 50 players from all nine FBS conferences as well as one independent (UMass).  Headlining this year’s preseason list is West Virginia’s David Sills, who was a finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma State’s James Washington.  One other 2017 semifinalist is included as well, Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown.

A total of seven teams placed two receivers each on the watch list: Cal (Kanawai Noa, Vic Wharton III), Louisville (Dez Fitzpatrick, Jaylen Smith), Nebraska (Stanley Morgan Jr., JD Spielman), North Texas (Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence), Oklahoma (Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb), Toledo (Diontae Johnson, Cody Thompson) and West Virginia (Gary Jennings Jr., Sills).

Three conferences totaled seven players apiece, the ACC, Big 12 and MAC.  That trio is followed by five each from Conference USA and four apiece for the AAC, Pac-12 and Sun Belt.  The Big Ten and Mountain West each placed three.

Below is the complete list of 2018 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch listers:

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Tyre Brady, Marshall
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Trevon Brown, East Carolina
Ryan Davis, Auburn
Greg Dortch, Wake Forest
Terren Encalade, Tulane
Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville
James Gardner, Miami-Ohio
Jonathan Giles, LSU
Marcus Green, ULM
Jalen Guyton, North Texas
Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Justin Hall, Ball State
Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Penny Hart, Georgia State
Justin Hobbs, Tulsa
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Collin Johnson, Texas
Diontae Johnson, Toledo
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Michael Lawrence, North Texas
Ty Lee Middle, Tennessee
McLane Mannix, Nevada
Scott Miller, Bowling Green
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska
Kanawai Noa, California
James Proche, SMU
T.J. Rahming, Duke
Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
David Sills V, West Virginia
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas
Jaylen Smith, Louisville
Kwadarrius Smith, Akron
JD Spielman, Nebraska
Cody Thompson, Toledo
John Ursua, Hawaii
Teddy Veal, Louisiana Tech
Jamarius Way, South Alabama
Nick Westbrook, Indiana
Vic Wharton III, California
Malcolm Williams, Coastal Carolina
Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia

Maxwell Award watch list highlighted by Bryce Love, Jonathan Taylor, Khalil Tate, McKenzie Milton

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The height of watch list season is upon us as the new week begins. The Maxwell Football Club got things kicked off this week with the release of the Maxwell Award and Bednarik Award watch lists. Among the many names appearing on the organization’s watch list for its player of the year award are semifinalists from last year’s award; Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, Stanford running back Bryce Love, UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.

Alabama landed three players on the watch list, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and running back Damien Harris also joining Hurts on the watch list. Other players who played for the College Football Playoff participants last season include Clemson’s Christian Wilkins, Kelly Bryant, and Travis Etienne, Georgia’s Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift,  Oklahoma’s Rodney Anderson and Kyler Murray.

Last year’s Maxwell Award winner was Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Big Ten currently has the longest drought without a Maxwell Award winner among the power conferences. Penn State’s Larry Johnson was the last Big Ten player to win the award, doing so in 2002.

Here is this year’s watch list for the Maxwell Award:

RB Cam Akers, Florida State
RB Darius Anderson, TCU
RB Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
RB Alex Barnes, Kansas State
RB KirVonte Benson, Georgia Tech
QB Jake Bentley, South Carolina
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
WR A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
RB Spencer Brown, UAB
QB Jake Browning, Washington
QB Kelly Bryant, Clemson
RB Stephen Carr, USC
QB KJ Costello, Stanford
RB AJ Dillon, Boston College
RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
QB Eric Dungey, Syracuse
RB Travis Etienne, Clemson
QB Caleb Evans, ULM
QB Mason Fine, North Texas
QB Ryan Finley, N.C. State
QB Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
QB Deondre Francois, Florida State
QB Jake Fromm, Georgia
QB Ty Gangi, Nevada
WR James Gardner, Miami (Ohio)
RB Myles Gaskin, Washington
RB James Gilbert, Ball State
QB Will Grier, West Virginia
QB Justice Hansen, Arkansas State
RB Damien Harris, Alabama
WR N'Keal Harry, Arizona State
RB Darrell Henderson, Memphis
QB Justin Herbert, Oregon
RB Karan Higdon, Michigan
RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
RB Travis Homer, Miami
QB Jalen Hurts, Alabama
QB Josh Jackson, Virginia Tech
WR Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
RB Ty Johnson, Maryland
QB Daniel Jones, Duke
RB Xavier Jones, SMU
RB Patrick Laird, California
QB Brian Lewerke, Michigan State
QB Drew Lock, Missouri
RB Bryce Love, Stanford
QB TaQuon Marshall, Georgia Tech
QB Marcus McMaryion, Fresno State
QB Trace McSorley, Penn State
QB McKenzie Milton, UCF
QB Steven Montez, Colorado
RB David Montgomery, Iowa State
RB Jalin Moore, Appalachian State
RB Zack Moss, Utah
QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
QB Frank Nutile, Temple
DT Ed Oliver, Houston
QB Shea Patterson, Michigan
QB Malcolm Perry, Navy
WR Tony Pollard, Memphis
WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami
QB Armani Rogers, UNLV
QB Nathan Rourke, Ohio
QB Brett Rypien, Boise State
WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
RB LJ Scott, Michigan State
QB Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
WR David Sills, West Virginia
RB Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic
RB Rodney Smith, Minnesota
RB Benny Snell, Kentucky
QB Nathan Stanley, Iowa
QB Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
QB Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
QB Khalil Tate, Arizona
RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
QB Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
RB Juwan Washington, San Diego State
DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
QB Manny Wilkins, Arizona State
RB Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
QB Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame
RB Darnell Woolfolk, Army