University at Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn said this week he had not uttered the words “Stony Brook” to his football team.
It probably wasn’t necessary.
UB’s players know what happened last year in their one game against a Football Championship Subdivision team. They needed five overtimes to pull out a 26-23 victory over Stony Brook.
In preparing for today’s meeting against FCS foe Duquesne, the Bulls realize that games are won on the field, not in Las Vegas betting parlors (where UB is pegged as a 28-point favorite).
“If they put a better effort in than we do, they’re going to win the game, that’s just how it works,” said UB nose tackle Kristjan Sokoli. “And we learned that from last year and past years. The team that’s best on that day is going to win.”
UB, coming off an 8-5 season, has high hopes of posting back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1983-84.
This will be Duquesne’s first-ever game against a top-level Division I team. Duquesne is a 10,000-student Pittsburgh school better known for its basketball program. It plays in the Northeast Conference with the likes of Sacred Heart, Robert Morris and Central Connecticut.
Duquesne returns 16 starters from a team that went 7-4 last season. Over the past five seasons, UB is 5-0 against FCS foes, winning by an average score of 38-13.
The 13 Mid-American Conference teams last season went 10-2 against FCS foes. The two losses were by MAC dregs UMass and Western Michigan, both of which went 1-11.
A blowout win is far from guaranteed. Of the 10 MAC wins against FCS foes, seven were by 14 or fewer points.
This is only the fourth meeting of a team from the Northeast Conference, as it’s currently constituted, against an FBS team.
Ideally, this will be a good tune-up for UB as it heads into its FBS non-conference schedule. The Bulls visit Army next week and face 10th-ranked Baylor at home in two weeks.
UB’s players say they’re eager to get started.
“You go through three weeks of camp banging on your own team day in and day out, we’re thrilled to face a new opponent,” said senior center Trevor Sales.
“We’ve been working hard for so many months, from conditioning and spring ball, so when you get to this points it’s like, we really made it,” Sokoli said. “We’re excited to put our product on the field.”
Duquesne is led by quarterback Dillon Buechel, a 6-foot-3 sophomore who last season passed for 225 yards a game.
UB graduated three of its five starting defensive backs from last season, including All-MAC cornerback Najia Johnson.
“They have a solid group of receivers and a quarterback I think that will challenge our coverage skills and the way we structure our defense,” Quinn said.
Country music star Easton Corbin will be playing the pregame concert in UB’s “Stampede Square,” just off the Millersport Highway side of the stadium, beginning at 1:30 p.m. It’s part of UB’s football concert series that will happen two hours before every home game.
Stadium gates open at 2 p.m. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m.
Former Bills punter Brian Moorman is UB’s honorary captain for the game and will sign autographs at a tailgate party held by his PUNT Foundation, which benefits pediatric cancer patients. September is pediatric cancer month and children in treatment for cancer will be guests at the game.
UB will unveil its new artificial turf, which includes a large New York State logo in the middle of the field. The old turf lasted nine seasons, a few short of expectations. The new field, A-Turf Titan, is manufactured by A-Turf Inc., based in Cheektowaga. A-Turf Titan also is used at Ralph Wilson Stadium.