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BRAVE TALK FROM BULLS

Think this is bad timing for the University at Buffalo to go for two wins in a row?

The Bulls, fresh off their first victory in 19 games, would beg to differ and are showing no fear as they prepare for the top Mid-American Conference program.

UB plays three-time reigning champ Marshall Saturday at 7 p.m. in Huntington, W.Va.

"We're looking forward to playing the best in our conference right now," UB coach Craig Cirbus said. "I couldn't think of a better football team to play right now than them."

The Thundering Herd won, 59-3, last year at UB Stadium. The Bulls are 43 1/2 -point underdogs this time.

But, then again, prognosticators predicted UB would lose to Bowling Green by 21 points last Saturday. The Bulls startled virtually everyone with a 20-17 come-from-behind win.

How shocking was the Bulls' victory? Falcons coach Gary Blackney was humbled enough to announce on Tuesday he would resign after the year.

After getting outscored, 122-7, in its first two games, UB finds itself with rare momentum dating back to the 24-21 loss at home to Connecticut on Sept. 16.

"Marshall is a good team, but we're going to try to keep everything rolling," Bulls outside linebacker Marcus Cole said. "I know the team feels really good, and we've been able to stay positive even though our record hasn't been.

"I think we're going to give Marshall a run for their money and try to beat them. They're coming off a loss against North Carolina, so I think we're going to be able to catch them off guard."

Probably not.

The Herd should be hungry entering its conference opener. It is 1-2 with a blowout win over Division I-AA Southwest Missouri State followed by competitive road losses to No. 18 Michigan State and North Carolina.

The Bulls are 1-3 overall and 1-0 in the MAC East Division.

"Now that we've won one game, we want to win the rest of them," Cole said. "Waking up Sunday morning, that's the best feeling I've ever had since I joined the team. I want to keep that feeling alive."

Cirbus isn't even fazed by having to go into the West Virginia hills to play this game. The sixth-year head coach actually is looking forward to that aspect of the game.

"It'll be great for our guys to get down there," Cirbus said. "I'm anxious for our guys to take a look at it and see what the best in the conference has. And it's a great college town, so it'll be a fun trip for our guys."

The Bulls are relatively healthy. Marquis Dwarte, who scored the game-winning touchdown Saturday, will replace tailback Bam McDonald, likely out with a sprained knee at least until the Oct. 21 homecoming matchup against Ball State.

Standout receiver Zeke McKine suffered a slight concussion against Bowling Green but should play Saturday.

"I couldn't ask for a better week to play Marshall than where we're at right now," Cirbus said.

"We can look at being a 21-point underdog and beating that football team and then turning on the film and being able to objectively say, 'We can improve here, here, here and here.' We know in the back of our mind if we keep improving we can beat Marshall."

While Cirbus and his players prepare for Marshall, UB's administration is looking forward to future seasons.

UB president William Greiner said Army has been added to the schedule for the next two seasons. He added the Bulls will go to West Point in 2001 and the Cadets will play at UB Stadium in 2002.

To fit Army in, UB apparently will be dropping Virginia. Cirbus said the Bulls were to host the Cavaliers next year before completing the three-game deal at Virginia in 2002. The Bulls visited the Cavaliers last year.

The Bulls play eight MAC games and three non-conference games each season.

UB's non-conference slates the next two years: Rutgers Sept. 8, at UConn Sept. 22 and at Army (the date to be determined) in 2001; at Rutgers Sept. 7, UConn Sept. 14 and Army (TBD) in 2002.

The UB-Syracuse series continues in 2004, when the Orangemen visit UB Stadium. The Bulls return to the Carrier Dome again in 2005 and 2007.

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