Bulls headed to Dollar General Bowl

Buffalo’s first bowl game since 2013

dollargeneralbowl

Buffalo football head coach Lance Leipold wants his team to be proud but not satisfied. Leipold had a chance to address his team Sunday, meeting for the first time since losing the Mid-American Conference Championship game.

Through mixed emotions as the Bulls process the loss, Buffalo announced it will be playing a bowl game this year.

The Bulls accepted an invitation to the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on Sunday. Buffalo earned the position after a 10-3 overall record and going 7-1 in conference play. They take on the second-place team in the Sun Belt Conference, the Troy Trojans (9-3, 7-1 Sun Belt) with kickoff scheduled on Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.

It is Buffalo’s first bowl game since 2013.

“It's a great day to be a Bull any time you are able to get to this Sunday and have the opportunity to be invited to a bowl game and extend your season,” said athletic director Mark Alnutt. “[This is] a great opportunity for this program and more importantly our student athletes. We definitely want to be in a position to play on a national platform and send these seniors out as winners.”

One year ago, the selection committee didn’t pick the Bulls for a bowl game despite UB reaching the six-win mark of eligibility. The MAC had six teams eligible but only four spots available in bowl games. Buffalo and Western Michigan didn’t go to a bowl game.

The opportunity, arguably a year late, will give the Bulls a chance to win their first-ever bowl game. Buffalo has lost each of its prior appearances with the 2009 International Bowl and 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

“When we were left out, I wanted to get ourselves into a position where we could be the first team ever to win a bowl game here at UB,” Leipold said. “I told that to our team Friday after the game that win or lose that will be a goal I have for this football team. As they made their mark, winning a bowl game will be an exclamation point.”

Buffalo has three weeks to prepare for Troy. Leipold is happy because it gives his team an extra week to prepare and a week without travel after spending the past three weeks on the road. Junior quarterback Tyree Jackson joked that he would be able to squeeze in his yoga class final before the Bulls leave on Dec. 18.

The only disadvantage for Buffalo is the location. Mobile is a 167 mile drive from Troy, a trip that takes less than three hours to complete. The Bulls will essentially be playing a road game if the Trojan fans turns out in troves.

Buffalo will get a chance to play in some warmer weather but players said it won’t have an effect on their play. Senior center James O’Hagan proudly stated he would not wear a shirt wherever they played.

But for seniors like O’Hagan, it also marks a final date for the end of their careers at UB.

“It's crazy, coming from California just three years ago and to think about how far we've come, how far I've come,” said senior linebacker Khalil Hodge. “I don't know if I would have ever been to Buffalo, New York without this opportunity. For things to come to a close Dec. 22, we're still forever going to be a Bull.”

Buffalo did not hesitate at the opportunity to play, according to Alnutt. Ticket information for fans willing to travel is scheduled to be announced on Monday, Dec. 3.

Nathaniel Mendelson is the sports editor and can be reached at nathaniel.mendelson@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @NateMendelson