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UB football gameday: Bulls vs. Troy in the Dollar General Bowl

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Ala.

TV: ESPN.

Radio: ESPN 1520.

Records: Buffalo 10-3; Troy 9-3.

Last time out: The Bulls gave up a 19-point lead in a 30-29 loss to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game Nov. 30 in Detroit. Wide receiver Anthony Johnson caught seven passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Tyree Jackson completed 18 of 35 passes for 252 yards.

Troy lost 21-10 to Appalachian State in its final game of the regular season on Nov. 24 in Boone, N.C., as Appalachian State took a 21-0 lead in the first 19 minutes. Troy quarterback Sawyer Smith completed 17 of 33 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown, and was intercepted twice.

History: This is UB’s first meeting with Troy, and its first game against a Sun Belt Conference opponent.

A first: UB looks to earn its first bowl win. The Bulls lost 49-24 to San Diego State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in December of 2013 in Boise, and lost 38-20 to Connecticut in the International Bowl in January of 2009 in Toronto.

On the rebound: NIU handed UB its third loss on Nov. 30 in the MAC title game, but the Bulls have bounced back in resounding fashion after their first two losses. UB beat Central Michigan 34-24 on Oct. 6, a week after a 42-13 loss to Army, then beat Bowling Green 44-14 on Nov. 23, nine days after a 52-17 loss at Ohio.

UB quarterback Tyree Jackson will face the future after Dollar General Bowl

Approaching 1,000: UB wide receiver Anthony Johnson needs 56 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the second year. He caught 76 passes for 1,356 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2017, and can become the third UB player to have two 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Alex Neutz had 1,024 receiving yards in 2013 and 1,015 in 2012, and Drew Haddad had 1,158 receiving yards in 1997 and 1,058 in 1999.

Always on the run: Jaret Patterson holds the UB freshman rushing record with 946 yards, and needs 54 to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark. He would become the first UB freshman to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Jordan Johnson was the last UB player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, finishing with 1,040 yards in 2016.

Patterson and redshirt freshman Kevin Marks have combined for 1,751 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns (Patterson with 13 and Marks with 12).

For the record: Tyree Jackson needs 143 yards to become the second quarterback in UB history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. Drew Willy threw for 3,304 yards in 2008.

Jackson has 2,857 yards on 205-of-372 passing, with 27 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions this season. He needs three to set a new program record; Joe Licata set the record of 29 in 2014.

For the foes: Troy plays for its third consecutive 10-win season in the Dollar General Bowl. Troy finished 10-3 in 2016 and 11-2 in 2017.

Troy pulled off one of the notable upsets in college football this season when it defeated Nebraska 24-19 on Sept. 15 in Lincoln, Neb., but finished second in the Sun Belt’s East Division, as it lost to eventual Sun Belt champion Appalachian State.

Led by linebackers Hunter Reese, Tron Folsom and Carlton Martial, Troy was second in the Sun Belt in scoring defense (21.2 points), second in total defense (345.6 yards per game) and second in rushing defense (130.92 yards per game). Troy’s defense has also allowed 3.31 yards per carry, which is 12th nationally.

Folsom leads the Trojans with 80 tackles, Reese is second in the Sun Belt with 7.5 sacks, and Martial, a USA Today freshman All-American, had 70 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss. Martial is a redshirt freshman and a former walk-on.

Running back B.J. Smith is second in the Sun Belt with 1,093 rushing yards on 199 carries, and leads the league with 91.08 yards per game. Smith also has 12 rushing touchdowns.

Quarterback Sawyer Smith is 113-for-185 passing for 1,349 yards and 10 touchdowns and has been intercepted six times. Wide receiver Damion Willis has 43 catches for 775 yards and eight touchdowns.

Troy is 4-3 in bowl games, and 2-2 against MAC bowl opponents. Troy beat Ohio, 28-23, in the 2016 Dollar General Bowl. Central Michigan defeated Troy, 44-41, in double overtime in the 2009 GMAC Bowl (Now the Dollar General Bowl, played on Jan. 6, 2010). Troy lost 34-21 to Northern Illinois in the 2004 Silicon Valley Classic, and beat Ohio 48-21 in the 2010 New Orleans Bowl.

Injuries and adversity: Anthony Johnson's challenging road to UB and the Dollar General Bowl

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