By Matt Parrino
Niagara Gazette — It’s been a while since the University at Buffalo football team was in the hunt for a regular season Mid-American conference title.
Back in 2008, when Drew Willy and Naaman Roosevelt were running the show for the Bulls, Buffalo was the upstart surprise team in the MAC. This year UB has been the front runner, posting a seven-game win streak for the first time in program history.
But now the season is on the line, and at Ralph Wilson Stadium, where many wonder, including UB’s opponent Bowling Green, whether or not the Bulls lose home field advantage by playing in the 70,000-plus seat NFL stadium that houses the Bills.
Regardless of where the game is played, UB can send a big message with a win this afternoon. New Athletic Director Danny White wants UB to be the flagship university of New York State, but the only way to accomplish that goal is to start piling up league championships.
The fun part about this season and a Bulls team full of local talent, is the way they play on both sides of the ball. Khalil Mack is as good as advertised and has proved himself week in, week out against every opponent he’s faced.
Grand Island’s Alex Neutz is one of the best wide receivers in program history, recently breaking the all-time record for touchdowns in a career (30). Running back Branden Oliver broke Green Bay Packers RB James Starks’ record for career rushing when he went for 249 yards against Ohio earlier this season.
Sophomore QB Licata is the ultimate game manager. He doesn’t make many mistakes and he has a big arm and a couple of trustworthy targets in Neutz and senior Fred Lee.
I’m a little biased, I graduated from UB and have watched most of these guys progress through their careers. But Mack, Oliver and Neutz are great people, as well as great athletes. This is a team that’s worth supporting, a group of young men that do things the right way on and off the field.
The Bulls may have lost their home field advantage, but they have shown all season that they have the heart and desire to compete. I’ll be at “The Ralph” tomorrow to see if they can finish the job.
After you get done shopping, feel free to make the trek out to Orchard Park. It’s a team worth watching.
Follow @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete local sports coverage.Follow @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete local sports coverage.