Aug 29, 2017
Buffalo (0-0, 0-0 MAC) at Minnesota (0-0, 0-0 B10)
August 31, 2017
TCF Bank Stadium - 7:00 pm (EST)
Bulls on the Air
Buffalo - ESPN 1520
Rochester - Fox Sports 1280
• The Bulls are opening the season on the road for the first time since 2013.
• This is the second meeting between UB and Minnesota. The Gophers won the other meeting, 41-17, at the Metrodome on Sept. 21, 2002.
• The Bulls return 14 starters from a season ago, including eight on defense.
• Reserve right tackle Kayode Awosika is a native of Plymouth, MN - 16 miles from the Minnesota campus.
• Buffalo quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowksi served as quarterbacks coach at Minnesota from 2011-15. Offensive line coach Daryl Agpalsa was a graduate assistant coach for the Gophers from 2010-12.
• Minnesota defensive backs coach Maurice Linguist was the cornerbacks coach at Buffalo from 2012-13.
• The Bulls are 2-13 all-time against opponents from the Big Ten Conference. However, six of those games were against Rutgers prior to joining the conference (1-5). The other win came against Penn State in 1900.
• Buffalo is predicted to finish fifth in Mid-American Conference East Division.
• The Bulls are kicking off their 105th season of football.
• This is the second straight road game the Bulls will face a P.J. Fleck coached team. UB played at Western Michigan on Nov. 19, 2016.
Bulls Open 2017 Campaign at Minnesota
The University at Buffalo football team will kick off the 2017 season at Minnesota on Thursday night at TCF Bank Stadium. The Bulls are coming off a season in which they went 2-10 overall and 1-7 in MAC play.
The Bulls return 14 starters, including eight on the defensive side of the ball. The Bulls were picked fifth in the MAC preseason poll.
Minnesota returns 17 starters to a team that finished 9-4 last season. The Gophers were picked fifth in the Big Ten West Division preseason poll.
Minnesota leads the all-time series, 1-0. The Gophers won the only meeting, 41-17, at the Metrodome on Sept. 21, 2002.
With the graduation of All-MAC running back Jordan Johnson, the Bulls will have a new starter in the backfield this season. Whomever the primary ball-carrier is, they will have big shoes to fill as the Bulls have featured 1,000-yard running backs in six of the last 10 seasons, including three of their last four. Prior to 2007, UB had only three 1,000-yard rushers in the history of the program.
2007 James Starks - 1,103
2008 James Starks - 1,333
2011 Branden Oliver - 1,395
2013 Branden Oliver - 1,535
2014 Anthone Taylor - 1,403
2016 Jordan Johnson - 1,040
Tyree Jackson enters the 2017 season as Buffalo's starting quarterback after a strong freshman campaign in which he started eight games. The sophomore signal-caller finished the season 165-for-311 for 1,772 yards, nine touchdowns and nine interceptions. He was the Bulls' second leading rusher, gaining 472 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He threw for 302 yards against Ohio and 306 yards against Ball State last season to become the first freshman quarterback in school history to throw for 300 yards in a game.
O'Hagan Named to Rimington Trophy Watch List
James O'Hagan was named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List. The award is giving annually to the nation's top center. This is the second straight year UB's junior center has been named to the watch list.
O'Hagan is coming off the best season of his career. He started all 12 games of 2016 and was named All-MAC Third Team. O'Hagan has been the anchor of the Bulls' offensive over the past two season, starting all 24 games.
Bulls vs. Big 10
The Bulls are playing Minnesota for just the second time. The Gophers beat the Bulls, 41-17, in 2002. Buffalo has played seven Big 10 members in its history, including Iowa (0-1), Michigan (0-1), Ohio State (0-1), Penn State (1-2 - UB's win came in 1900), Wisconsin (0-1) and Rutgers (1-5 - all previous to joining the Big 10).
Five Bulls Named to Athlon Preseason All-MAC Team
Five members of the University at Buffalo football team have been named to the Athlon Sports 2017 Preseason All-MAC team. James O'Hagan, Khalil Hodge were named to the second team, while Brandon Manosalvas, Chris Ford and Jarrett Franklin were named to the fourth team.
O'Hagan is coming off the best season of his career. He started all 12 games at center in 2016 and was named All-MAC Third Team. O'Hagan has been the anchor of the Bulls' offensive over the past two season, starting all 24 games.
Hodge, a middle linebacker, is coming off a fine debut season with the Bulls – earning All-MAC second-team honors. In 2016, he led Buffalo with 123 tackles, the eighth most in school history for a single season and second most by a player in UB's FBS era. He posted double-digit tackles in seven games and his 10.3 tackles per game average ranked eighth nationally.
Manosalvas started all 12 games at guard last season. He has helped solidify the left side of the offensive line.
Ford has developed into one of the top nose tackles in the Mid-American Conference. The UB senior had 30 tackles, included three tackles for loss in 2016.
Franklin is coming off the best season of his career. The senior linebacker ranked third on the team in tackles with a career-best 75 in 2016. He had five or more tackles in eight games last year.
Strength at Linebacker
An area of strength for the defense in 2017 should be the linebacker corps. The Bulls return all three starting linebackers from a season ago who were also the team's top three leading tacklers.
Middle linebacker Khalil Hodge earned All-MAC Second Team honors last year after recording 123 tackles, including seven tackles for loss. It was the eighth best single-season tackle total in school history.
Ishmael Hargrove also amassed over 100 tackles, finishing with 103 on the year. The senior outside linebacker added three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on the season.
Senior Jarrett Franklin had 75 tackles in 2016 for the best season of his career.
Junior Jordan Collier will also be in the mix at outside linebacker after totalling 18 tackles, including two tackles for loss last year.
New Faces at Running Back
The graduation of All-MAC running back Jordan Johnson following the 2016 season means the Bulls will feature a new starting running back in 2017.
The leading candidate for the starting job is Johnathan Hawkins. The junior back is the Bulls' top returning rusher and receiver from a season ago. He rushed for 338 yards and a touchdown and added 21 receptions for 119 yards and a score in 2017.
Sophomore Emmanual Reed will see an extended role after appearing in three games and rushing for 33 yards last season.
Also adding depth at running will be Kameron Pickett and Theo Anderson - a pair of backs that redshirted last season as true freshmen.
For the second straight season, the Bulls will play every game on artificial turf. Buffalo is one of 18 teams that will play all its games on artificial turf this season. Ohio State, Washington State, Kansas State, Wyoming, Utah State, Air Force, UNLV, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Ball State, Miami (Ohio), Western Kentucky, Charlotte, UT-San Antonio, Arkansas State, Idaho and Coastal Carolina will also play all of its games on turf.
Bulls Add Grad Transfer from Cal
Defensive end Kennedy Emesibe has joined the team as a graduate transfer. Emesibe joined the Bulls after spending three seasons with the Cal Bears. Emesibe was a reserve defensive end for the Bears after a standout high school career in which he was ranked the 35th best defensive end in the nation his senior season.
Team Captains Named
Five players were voted team captains for the 2017 season. Players voted senior wide receiver Jamarl Eiland, senior linebacker Jarrett Franklin, senior defensive end Demone Harris, junior linebacker Khalil Hodge and junior center James O'Hagan were voted captains for the upcoming season.
Zebrowski Added to Coaching Staff
Jim Zebrowksi, a coaching veteran in the Big Ten and the Mid-American Conference, begins his first season as quarterbacks. Zebrowksi brings 25 years of coaching experience to Buffalo, including five successful seasons at Minnesota.
Zebrowski was the quarterbacks coach at Minnesota from 2011-15 and helped lead the Gophers to three straight bowl games. He is well known for developing young quarterbacks.
He helped lead the Gophers to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2012, the Texas Bowl in 2013 and the Citrus Bowl in 2014. He likely would have stayed at Minnesota. However, head coach Jerry Kill stepped down for health reasons in 2015, resulting in changes to the coaching staff.
Prior to coaching at Minnesota, Zebrowksi was the quarterbacks coach at Northern Illinois in 2010. He tutored All-MAC quarterback Chandler Harnish, an NFL draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts. He also laid the foundation for Harnish's backup Jordan Lynch who was an All-American and a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2013. Featuring a high-powered offense that averaged over 35 points per game, Zebrowski helped lead the Huskies to the 2010 MAC Championship game and a win over Fresno State in the Humanitarian Bowl.
This is the second time Zebrowski will serve under Leipold. He was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater from 2007-09. Over his tenure, the Warhawks went 42-3 and advanced to the Division III title game every year, winning it twice. Zebrowksi was named the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year and the FootballScoop.com Division III Coordinator of the Year in 2009.
It's All Relative
The UB football team features a pair of players related to two of the top five picks in the 2014 NFL Draft. Junior wide receiver Anthony Johnson is the cousin of top pick Jadeveon Clowney. Junior linebacker Ledarius Mack is the younger brother of former UB All-American and fifth pick Khalil Mack.
On The Airwaves
Again this season, University at Buffalo football can be heard locally on ESPN 1520, a 50,000-watt station with one of the strongest signals in the nation. The Bulls can also be heard on 1280 AM in Rochester.
Calling all the play-by-play action of Bulls football for his 18th year, and 10th consecutive, will be Paul Peck. Scott Wilson will serve as analyst after previously serving as sideline reporter. Brad Riter also returns as game host.
Again this season, the UB Football postgame show will take place at Santora's on Millersport with host Bob Gaughan.
Peck will host the UB Football Insider with Lance Leipold on Monday nights at 5:30 pm. The show air on ESPN 1520 and be broadcast live from the Santora's Transit Road location.