Despite the loss, Bulls earn respect on national stage
Published: Sunday, September 2, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Georgia’s chorus of 92,000 boobirds should tell you something: UB’s football team won on Saturday despite its 0-1 record and lack of a turbo button.
After Buffalo fell 45-23 to No. 6 Georgia, a game which UB very much threatened to win, head coach Jeff Quinn said he does not believe in moral victories.
“There are no moral victories in my opinion,” Quinn said. “We line up, we play, we want to win.
“They’re a better football team than us. And that’s evident.”
Is Georgia better? Of course. But let’s keep it 100: This is the epitome of a moral victory. The Bulls walked out victorious and Georgia left shaken. As I exited the stadium, the die-hard Dawgs fans had their heads hung. Nobody was smiling. They weren’t happy with their team.
Nevermind the 22-point difference in favor of Georgia or the ‘L’ etched into Buffalo’s record books. The scoreboard is not indicative of the game.
Here’s what happened in three lines:
1. Georgia’s talent pulled away in the end from a team it should have pulled away from in the first five minutes, and UGA’s fans booed their beloved Bulldogs mercilessly.
2. Buffalo junior quarterback Alex Zordich, who struggled mightily in spot starts as a freshman and narrowly won a quarterback competition this summer, surprised; Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, a preseason Heisman favorite, disappointed.
3. Special teams blunders, including Georgia blocking a punt and returning a kick for a touchdown immediately after Buffalo made it a one-point game, blew it for UB in an otherwise impressive performance.
After seeing games at Tennessee and Georgia the past two years, I am convinced the BCS-conference teams own a turbo button that most Mid-American Conference schools just don’t have. In open space, the Bulls have no prayer. Georgia’s speed, size, talent and rabid, massive fan base give it an incomparable – and, in this case, insurmountable – advantage.
Despite all that, despite Vegas odds makers and people like me who would not have been surprised by a 40-point loss, the Bulls were down 24-16 at halftime, and they believed they could win.
Quinn said his team was talking about it in the locker room. Sophomore cornerback Cortney Lester said his squad was “excited.” Junior running back Branden Oliver, who carried 30 times for 112 yards and a score in front of a big group of family (he hails from Miami, Fla.), said he believes God created all men equal, and for that reason the Bulls believed they could win.
It was a one possession game, for goodness sake. The Bulls outscored Georgia 10-0 in the second quarter, and heading into halftime you’d have thought the blue and white had a 30-point lead.
Sanford Stadium was that lifeless.
Reality won out, of course. Georgia won. That’s what was supposed to happen all along. Based on preseason rankings, Buffalo is not supposed to be very good (picked to finish second-last in the MAC East), and Georgia is supposed to be one of the best teams in the country.
Neither team fulfilled expectations on Saturday.
It’s hard to hush the 92,000 people clad almost entirely in red, but the only noise in the second quarter came from the boobirds – who let their team hear it often throughout the humid afternoon. They let their team hear it hard.
Yes, coach Quinn, Georgia was the better football team. Yes, UB took the loss and talent won out in the end, as it usually does. But this Buffalo team was playing without its second-best player, linebacker Khalil Mack, who served a one-game suspension for a fight with wide receiver Fred Lee. This team was playing on the road in a hostile environment against one of the highest-ranked teams the school had ever faced – and it didn’t blink.
I call that a victory.