The State University of New York at Buffalo
Location: Buffalo, NY
Home Stadium: UB Stadium
Head Coach: Lance Leipold (1st season, 1-0 overall)
Conference: Mid-American Conference (MAC)
First Game: November 29, 1900 (Buffalo won 10-0)
Last Game: September 15, 2007 (Penn State won 45-24)
Overall: Penn State 1-1 (.500)
Current Streak: Penn State has won 1 game in a row (2007)
Last Season (5-6, 3-4 MAC)
Buffalo had a rough go of it in the final season under head coach Jeff Quinn, with particularly bad losses at Army and Eastern Michigan. The Bulls faced one power conference team in 2014, losing 63-21 in a home game against Baylor. Quinn was fired after the season.
The big splash for Buffalo in this offseason was the hiring of head coach Lance Leipold. Leipold was the head coach of Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater for eight seasons, going 109-6 and winning six national championships. The Bulls will hope that Leipold's success at a lower level will be able to translate to the FBS over the next few years.
In recruiting, Buffalo had the 118th-ranked recruiting class according to 247 Sports. Buffalo did not receive any votes in the preseason AP or Coaches' polls.
Buffalo opened the Leipold era with a blowout 51-14 win over Albany (and former Penn State quarterback D.J. Crook) on Saturday. Senior quarterback Joe Licata went 20-26 for 236 yards and two touchdowns. They spread the ball around, with five different players catching at least three passes. Senior running back Anthone Taylor led the way on the ground, with 104 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. The Bulls defense was able to intercept Crook twice and also recover an Albany fumble in the win.
Licata is a senior, and so are a number of the main contributors at running back and wide receiver. While the offensive line is inexperienced, this is an overall experienced unit. That said, it's not a particularly talented one, and the players are adjusting to a new offense under a new coaching staff. Behind the starting running back Taylor, look for Buffalo to mix in junior Jordan Johnson (11 carries last week) and true freshman Johnathan Hawkins (10 carries last week). The Bulls also made good use of their tight ends in the opener, with nine combined catches by Mason Schreck and Matt Weiser.
If this year is a senior-heavy year for the offense, last year was a senior-heavy year for the defense. There are a lot of holes to fill in a defensive lineup that was already pretty terrible, especially on the line and in the secondary. The defensive line in particular is combining a transition to a 4-3 with a significant number of contributors having just graduated. Barring some immediate impact from freshmen, this is a defense that is ripe for the picking by a power conference team, even one with as many offensive issues as Penn State. Leipold's calling card at his previous job was strong defense, but it's still year one at a low-level program.
Buffalo is going to be replacing field goal kicker Patrick Clarke, who was one of the worst in the country last season as he made less than half his field goal attempts and missed three point-after tries. New kicker Adam Mitcheson hit a 40-yard field goal in the opener last week, though he did miss one of his seven PATs.
The strength of the special teams unit in 2014 was the kick return game, with backup running back Devin Campbell averaging over 23 yards per return. The rest of the special teams return and coverage units ranged from average to below average.
Their punter is Tyler Grassman, and his cousin Corbin is the team's long snapper. Tyler enjoys posting videos of Corbin long snapping the football in non-football situations.
Buffalo's SB Nation blog is Bull Run. You can also read about the Bulls at Hustle Belt, our MAC blog.