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UB football faces Bowling Green with MAC East title on the line

The University at Buffalo football team won’t let Bowling Green’s win-loss record dictate the Bulls’ perception of the Falcons.

The Falcons have three wins and underwent a midseason coaching change. Yet as the season closes, the Falcons appear to have put the turmoil behind them, and they boast one of the Mid-American Conference's most potent passing tandems in quarterback Jarret Doege and wide receiver Scott Miller.

That fact is not lost on UB coach Lance Leipold as the Bulls (9-2, 6-1 MAC) prepares to face the Falcons (3-8, 2-5) at noon Friday at Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio.

UB needs to win at Bowling Green to secure the MAC East Division championship and a berth in the MAC championship game Nov. 30 at Ford Field in Detroit. The Bulls also have a circuitous route to the division title: UB can win the MAC East if Akron beats Ohio on Friday.

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The Falcons are third in the MAC in passing yards (2,717), and Doege leads the MAC in passing yards (2,576), passing touchdowns (26) and passing yards per game (234.2). Miller leads the MAC in receiving yards (1,033) and receiving yards per game (103.3).

“Looking at their record might be one thing,” Leipold said. “But look at them statistically, especially in the passing game, and it shows how dangerous they really are.”

The Bulls are fourth in the conference in pass defense (177.5 yards per game), but the likelihood of Bowling Green opening up its passing game can’t distract the Bulls from their goal: to win the MAC East title.

The Bulls have to face a motivated Bowling Green – a team that has nothing to lose – a week after Ohio drubbed UB, 52-17, in Athens, Ohio. That loss erased UB's first chance to win the MAC East.

Carl Pelini, Bowling Green’s interim coach, knows his team can spoil the Bulls’ title hopes, but he focuses on the short-term as his team prepares for its regular-season finale.

“Finish out the right way,” Pelini said Monday on the MAC coaches teleconference. “We’re building a foundation and a culture here the last few weeks and we want to keep that going.”

UB football gameday: Bulls at Bowling Green

Kickoff: 12 p.m. Friday, Doyt L. Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, Ohio.

TV: ESPNU

Radio: ESPN 1520

Records: Buffalo 9-2, 6-1 MAC; Bowling Green 3-8, 2-5 MAC.

Last time out: The Bulls lost a chance to clinch the MAC East when they lost, 52-17, last week at Ohio. The Bulls allowed a season-high 646 yards, including 437 yards rushing. UB produced 277 yards of offense on 45 plays, including only 120 passing yards – Buffalo’s second-lowest offensive output this season.

Bowling Green earned back-to-back wins for the first time this season with a 21-6 win last week at Akron. Quarterback Jarret Doege threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-27 passing, and Andrew Clair had 12 carries for 112 yards.

History: Bowling Green leads the all-time series, 11-4. UB defeated the Falcons, 38-28, on Nov. 7, 2017, at Bowling Green, but the Falcons have won their last two meetings at Doyt L. Perry Stadium against the Bulls.

The Falcons were 6-0 against UB from 2011 to 2016, including wins at New Era Field (then Ralph Wilson Stadium) in 2013 and at Mapfre Stadium (then Columbus Crew Stadium) in Columbus, Ohio, in 2012.

Win and you’re in: A win Friday at Bowling Green clinches the Bulls' first MAC East Division championship since 2008 and a berth in the MAC championship game. UB last won the MAC championship in 2008. Buffalo also wins the MAC East if Akron defeats Ohio.

Miami is 6-2 in the MAC and remains in contention for the MAC East title after its 42-21 win Tuesday against Ball State. If the Bulls lose at Bowling Green on Friday, and Ohio (5-2 in the MAC) wins Friday against Akron, Miami wins the MAC East on the basis of head-to-head competition, with its win Nov. 7 against the Bobcats.

On the rebound: A 52-17 loss to Ohio last week was UB's first loss since Sept. 29, a 42-13 loss to Army at UB Stadium. The Bulls lost their first MAC game since Oct. 28, 2017, a 21-20 loss at Akron.

One away: Khalil Hodge needs one tackle to earn the 400th of his career. Hodge, a linebacker, would be the fourth player in UB football history to record 400 tackles and would be the first to do it in three seasons. Hodge is fourth all-time for UB in tackles (399). He also could pass Mike Laipple (402) against Bowling Green. Davonte Shannon has the school record at 461. Hodge is second in the MAC and leads the Bulls with 123 tackles this season.

On the run: UB running back Jaret Patterson has 786 rushing yards on 139 carries and needs 132 yards to break the school's freshman rushing record. Aaron Leeper had 917 yards in 2002.

For the record: Tyree Jackson has 24 touchdown passes this season and can tie Drew Willy for second in touchdown passes in a season (25). Joe Licata set the single-season record for touchdown passes (29) in 2014.

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