Bulls rampage to another big MAC win

UB running back Jaret Patterson, left, carries the ball while Bowling Green linebacker Darren Anders (37) and defensive lineman Ja'von Lyons (56) close in during the first half of a game Tuesday in Bowling Green, Ohio.

The Buffalo Bulls have run roughshod over their Mid-American Conference football foes during three nationally-televised triumphs, striding across midfield on this season’s championship quest.

Jaret Patterson broke yet another UB record and became the first running back in the country this year to break 300 yards in Tuesday night’s 42-17 victory at Bowling Green.

But winning big isn’t good enough for these Bulls.

Not until they win it all.

Coach Lance Leipold commented on a subdued mood in the locker room following a 25-point road win that brought UB to 3-0 in MAC play for just the third time in history.

“I think that these guys have a standard that we expect to play at,” Leipold said. “And I don’t think we’ve really reached that. But when you can win, and accomplish things when you didn’t play your best, it’s a good sign.”

The Bulls received a vote in this week’s AP Top 25 vote and further praise from the CBS Sports Network broadcast as one of the top teams in major college football’s Group of Five conferences.

Patterson praised UB’s offensive line as the best in the nation and declared himself and Kevin Marks as the top tailback twosome before stating, “I think the country is really taking notice that Buffalo is a spot that plays football.”

With an extended break at midseason before next Saturday’s undefeated showdown with Kent State at UB Stadium, Patterson and the Bulls aren’t inclined to look back upon recent accomplishments.

“We have to flip a chapter and get ready for Kent State,” Patterson said.

UB has not lost since squandering a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter at Kent State last November.

“We owe those guys,” Patterson said. “This is a huge game in my eyes and I really don’t have time to reflect until the offseason.”

Patterson was asked again about his record performance (301 yards, four touchdowns), passing Niagara Falls native James Starks for second on UB’s all-time rushing list with 3,323 yards and pushing his school-record touchdown total to 42 in 30 games.

“The records are not broken alone, they are broken by teammates on the line, coaches trusting in me,” said Patterson, who currently ranks second in the country averaging 170 yards per game. “I just have to keep working because the ultimate goal for me is I want to win a MAC championship. It feels good that this team, we know we still have to improve. I always want to improve, and we never get satisfied off of success.”

UB has now won six straight dating to the end of last season, one victory from matching the school-record run set during the 2013 season and matched across the 2017-18 campaigns.

Since the 2019 midseason bye week, UB has gone 9-1 with a 23-point scoring margin, winning by 19 points or more against eight MAC opponents and Bahamas Bowl foe Charlotte.

That compares favorably with a 10-1 stretch in MAC games UB put together across the 2017-18 seasons, outscoring opponents by 11 points per game with just two wins by 19 or more.

The 2013 UB team led by future NFL star Khalil Mack and featuring all-time rushing leader Branden Oliver, all-time passer Joe Licata and All-MAC receiver Alex Neutz of Grand Island had a similar run, winning seven straight games by an average of 24 points at the peak of an 8-5 season.

Looking back on those peaks cautions against coming valleys as the Bulls lost three of their final four and failed to win a MAC championship or bowl game in both the 2013 and 2018 seasons.

If the Bulls can play at a level above their current one, as Leipold suggested, victories worthy of a boisterous locker room celebration will follow.

“As we reach the halfway point in this short season,” Leipold said, “if we take it one day at a time in our preparation, I’m confident this group will get better.”

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