RENO, Nev. – Scratch all that preseason talk about the University at Buffalo front seven being much improved from last season.
The Bulls’ defense got steamrolled by the University of Nevada in getting blown out, 38-14.
Nevada was too physical up front for UB last year in rushing for 289 yards in a 24-21 win at Buffalo.
This time it was worse. The Wolf Pack had 214 rushing yards in the first half alone. They finished with 352 rushing yards on 64 carries.
Star running back James Butler, who gashed the Bulls for 177 yards last year, rushed for 174 yards on 28 carries. His backup, speedy Jaxson Kincaide, gained 99 yards on 18 carries.
Those two had too much class for the UB defense.
Nevada blew the game open with two long TD drives in the second half. The first was a 15-play, 87-yard march. Butler gained 51 of the yards on the ground and scored from 2 yards to put Nevada up, 17-0.
Then Nevada marched 75 yards in 11 plays, the last 48 all on the ground to take a 24-0 halftime lead.
Miscues: UB defensive end Joe Keels crashed on the zone-read fake and let Stewart get outside of him for a 9-yard score, Nevada’s first TD. . . . UB had Nevada’s second TD drive stopped, but as safety Ryan Williamson dragged down Tyler Stewart for a third-down stop he pulled the quarterback’s facemask. That gave Nevada a first-and-goal at the 7. Earlier in the drive linebacker Brandon Berry let Butler get to the outside on a 28-yard run.
QB: Red-shirt freshman Tyree Jackson played most of the way but and ran effectively. But UB’s downfield passing game was ineffective. Jackson was 7 of 22 for 130 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He ran eight times for 87 yards.
No. 41: Senior cornerback Boise Ross wore No. 41 Saturday night and will wear it the rest of the season in honor of late teammate Solomon Jackson. Ross is the former roommate of Jackson, the defensive end who died in February after collapsing during an offseason team conditioning workout.
Ross has worn No. 1 throughout his UB career.
“Really, this started through conversations with Steve and Jakkii,” said UB coach Lance Leipold, referring to Jackson’s parents. “They wanted No. 41 on the field. The family chose Boise, who was his roommate, to be the appropriate person to do it first.”
UB is working on a plan, approved by Jackson’s family, that will have a designated player wear Jackson’s No. 41 every season.
“It’s an honor for me and to him and his family,” Ross said. “I’m happy to be able to do it. I want to represent what the number stands for, because he was a great man. I was taken aback when I was asked. Being it was my roommate and was really close with him, when I do get the chance to put the uniform on I will feel like he’s with me, and he always is with me.”
The Nevada game will be the season debut for Ross, who was held out of the opener against Albany for breaking team rules. Ross arguably is the top defender on the UB team. He ranked fifth in the nation in passes defensed last season.
No Lynch: Nevada No. 2 running back Akeel Lynch, the St. Francis High product, did not play due to a concussion suffered last week at Notre Dame.
Stadium Upgrade: Nevada unveiled $11.5 million in upgrades to 50-year-old Mackay Stadium. The project, funded entirely by the state of Nevada, featured an 8,000-square-foot stadium club, the addition of 4,156 new seats and the removal of 7,513 bleacher seats. Capacity is about 30,000. The new seating included 38 four-seat loge boxes, 238 club seats and 3,880 chair-back seats.
In the house: Paid attendance was 20,457.
Up next: UB returns home at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for what looks like a tough non-conference game against Army. The Golden Knights whipped Temple, 28-13, two weeks ago.