Just like that, the University at Buffalo's destiny lies in someone else's hands.
Saturday's 31-28 loss at Miami (Ohio) dropped the Bulls (4-6, 4-2) into a first-place tie in the Mid-American Conference East Division with the RedHawks, who also hold the tiebreaker. The RedHawks (5-5, 4-1) can advance to the MAC championship game with wins Nov. 14 at home against Akron and Nov. 24 at Ohio University.
UB would need Miami to lose in order to be a contender for the division title. Two-loss Bowling Green and Ohio also need Red-Hawks losses to climb back into the race. Both UB and Miami are 3-1 in divisional play.
"Our young men will be resilient, they'll be able to bounce back," said UB coach Turner Gill. "It's good that [the loss] hurts because it's supposed to hurt because we want to be winners. Our guys will come back because they are competitive and be ready to take on the challenge against Bowling Green."
The Bulls have two weeks to rest and prepare for Bowling Green (5-4, 3-2), which is 3-2 in the East Division. The Bulls host the Falcons on Nov. 17 on Senior Day at UB Stadium and end the regular season at Kent State (3-6, 1-4) on Nov. 24.
The Falcons are coming off a 44-20 win last Friday night over Akron, which took some of the steam off the UB-Miami game. If Bowling Green had lost Friday, UB would have clinched a tie for the East Division championship and advanced to the MAC title game with a win Saturday.
But everyone seems to be deviating from the script in college football these days so if UB wants to continue its storybook ride, it's going to need a little help from Akron and Ohio. Not to mention winning back-to-back games.
Sophomore tailback James Starks needs 88 yards to become the first 1,000-yard rusher for UB in 11 seasons. Anthony Swan ran for 1,117 yards and nine touchdowns in 1996. The Bulls have had only three 1,000-yard rushers in school history. O.D. Underwood (1986) was the first followed by Alan Bell (1991) and Swan. The only other player to come close to the mark was former Jamestown standout Aaron Leeper (2002), who rushed for 917 yards to earn MAC Freshman of the Year honors. Starks, a Niagara Falls native, has 912 yards with two games remaining.