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BULLS FIND REASONS TO BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES

The University at Buffalo is starting to feel that there's something right about this season.

UB's self-worth has been fed by some encouraging events from Saturday:

UB (1-2, 0-1) bounced back from a 13-3 halftime deficit to humiliate UConn, 37-20.

Fifth-year quarterback Joe Freedy rebounded from two poor performances that nearly cost him his job to pass for 218 yards and a touchdown.

After two weeks in which the running game was nonexistent, sophomore tailback Marquis Dwarte rushed for 150 yards.

UB snapped an 18-game road losing streak.

The Bulls appear to have faith in coach Jim Hofher's system.

Things just seem to be going right for UB. The karma is growing.

"There's still a lot more improving that needs to be done. We still have a lot of young guys playing, but after three weeks of experience under our belts we're getting the continuity that we need to play and compete," said senior offensive lineman Tim Hedges. "We want to take this victory and use it as momentum for the rest of the season."

Of course, a coach generally adds a pinch of pessimism to the optimism to keep the team's edge.

"No two games are the same," Hofher said. "It's like a round of golf, no two rounds of golf are the same. Each game is unrelated. Our players should have confidence because they have done it when they've been behind. It means they can do it again, but it doesn't guarantee that they will do it again.

"But every one of those guys who was involved both on offense and on defense ought to have some significant confidence."

There is so much confidence that the talk now centers around winning consecutive games, something the Bulls haven't done since the 1998 season when they defeated Morgan State and Canisius.

"It's been quite awhile since we've won two games in a row, and that's definitely the main focus of our team right
now," Hedges said. "We have to come back and play as strong as we did against Connecticut."

Saturday night at UB Stadium, Central Michigan (1-2, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) will try to extinguish the Bulls' glow before it amounts to anything.

The Chippewas' losses have come to a pair of Top 25 teams: Michigan and MAC favorite Toledo. Then again, Central Michigan isn't actually a league juggernaut. The Chippewas have dropped 10 of their last 12 games over the last two seasons and their lone victory came against Division I-AA Eastern Kentucky.

Central Michigan is a far cry from Miami (Ohio) and Marshall, the two teams UB faces over the next two weeks. Coach Mike DeBord is in a similar rebuilding mode as Hofher is at UB.

"The stakes rise a little bit," Hofher said. "That's kind of the way it goes in our game. You get a win, it certainly doesn't make it any easier, but it puts a little bit better bounce in your step."
e-mail: r mckissic@buffnews.com

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