DETROIT – Extra-point problems finally cost the University at Buffalo dearly Friday night.
The Bulls should have scored 31 points against Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game.
Partly because of two missed extra points, they lost, 30-29.
UB senior place-kicker Adam Mitcheson missed seven extra points during the season.
So UB opted to let Alex McNulty, a walk-on freshman from Rochester, try the first two PATs. He made the first and missed the second.
That prompted UB to go for two points after its third touchdown. Quarterback Tyree Jackson threw incomplete in the back of the end zone for tight end Zac Lefebvre, and the Bulls held a 19-7 lead.
Had UB not missed the first extra point, of course, it would not have gone for two points in that situation.
Mitcheson ended the first half with a line-drive, hooked 22-yard field goal that bounced off the left upright and in. Mitcheson is UB’s career field goals leader. But he missed an astounding 17 extra points in his four-year career.
Fast starters: UB scored a touchdown on its first and second drives and now has scored on the first or second drive in nine games this season. The Bulls have outscored foes, 137-58, in the first quarter.
Bowl for winner: The Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Ala., is a strong possibility for MAC champion Northern Illinois. However, other options are on the table. Depending on how many SEC teams make New Year's Six bowls, it's possible the SEC won't have enough bowl-eligible teams for its lesser bowl agreements. One of those is the Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl on Dec. 23. That’s where Sports Illustrated projects UB. Another possibility is if ESPN wants the winner for the Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho. The Dollar General Bowl would be an easier travel trip for UB fans than Boise.
Bowl for loser: One possible landing spot for MAC runner-up UB is the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 15. That will pit a MAC team against a Sun Belt team, very likely to be Georgia State. That’s not an attractive matchup for UB because Georgia State runs the triple option, which caused UB problems vs. Army. Some projections have the MAC’s Ohio going to the Camelia. There are a lot of variables. The Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit is a “secondary tie” for the MAC. But if that bowl wants a MAC team, it’s far more likely to pick a Michigan school (Eastern or Western) than UB or NIU.
Offensive records: With its first TD, UB set a school single-season record for points, breaking the mark of 424 in 2008. With 59 rushing yards, UB broke its single season record, set in 1998.
Top freshman: Jaret Patterson easily broke the UB freshman rushing record. He needed 44 yards to surpass Aaron Leeper’s mark of 917 yards, set in 2002. Patterson had it before the second quarter. He had 47 in the first 15 minutes.
No. 46: The memory of the best defensive player the MAC ever has produced, UB alumnus Khalil Mack, still remains fresh for Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey, even though No. 46 has been in the NFL for five seasons.
“We played against Khalil Mack,” Carey volunteered in an unsolicited comment Thursday. “We had to run the other way the entire day. We ran at him twice. He had two TFLs. So we didn’t do that anymore.”
Mack, who now plays for the Bears, was on the UB sideline.
Lineup note: NIU was without its No. 2 pass rusher, Josh Corcoran, for the first half, because he was flagged for a targeting foul in last week’s game. NIU’s best safety, Trayshon Foster, missed the last two games with a knee injury but was back in the lineup.
Business as usual: NIU will play in a bowl game for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons, a stretch matched by only one other Group of Five team (Boise State). The Group of Five consists of the MAC, American, Conference USA, Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences. NIU is 15th in the nation in winning percentage (.702) since 2010, just behind Notre Dame (.704).
West vs. East: The MAC West Division winner has won seven of the past 10 title games. The East and West tied, 8-8, in crossover games this regular season. The West had won the crossover the past eight seasons.
No. 45: NIU is 33-3 under Carey and 4-0 this year when rushing 45 times or more in a game.
Counting the house: Actual attendance at Ford Field looked to be about 3,000 or 4000. It was about evenly distributed between UB and NIU fans.
Next: The selections for all 39 bowl games will be made between noon and 4 p.m. Sunday on ESPN.