On the road against a respectable Mid-American Conference opponent in a stadium where the University at Buffalo has never won, a close struggle was to be expected. The Bulls were favored by a point.
Instead, the Bulls dominated Eastern Michigan with a punishing running attack and a stout ground defense and routed the Eagles, 43-14, at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich., for their third straight victory.
UB’s sturdy pair of sophomore running backs, Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks, gained 253 yards on 54 carries between them and scored three touchdowns in continuing to lead an unprecedented ground assault. Through nine games, UB has gained more net yards (2,020) on more rushing attempts (458) than any team in its history at the Bowl Championship Series level, which dates to 1999.
Patterson carried 33 times for 160 net yards and two touchdown runs of 1 yard each. Marks gained 90 yards in 21 attempts including a 9-yard scoring run that put the Bulls ahead to stay, 9-7, with 10:41 left in the second quarter. Patterson has 995 net yards and Marks 730 this season.
With three games left on the regular season schedule UB (5-4, 3-2 MAC) is on pace to pass its 2018 net rushing total of 2,484.
Sophomore quarterback Kyle Vantrease mixed in some effective passing with the runs of Patterson and Marks. Vantrease completed 15 of 23 for 208 yards and one touchdown throw of 10 yards to junior receiver Antonio Nunn, who now has five touchdown catches this season.
UB had the ball for 41 minutes, 36 seconds and ran 85 plays to 42 for the Eagles and had a 26-6 advantage in first downs.
That was only half the story, though. The UB defense limited Eastern Michigan to 210 total yards, 80 of which came on one play when Mike Glass passed to Matthew Sexton on a scoring play that put the Eagles in front, 7-0, with 6:59 left in the first
UB then drove 94 yards before turning the ball over on downs at the EMU 1. The fourth-down gamble paid off, though. Three plays later Tyrece Woods and Chibueze Onwuka sacked Glass for a safety. After the ensuring free kick, the Bulls drove 61 yards in 11 plays with Marks
finishing the drive with his 9-yard run. Vantrease completed all three of his passes in the series for 28 yards, one a fourth-down throw to Nunn for eight yards when two were needed.
The Bulls scored on their next three possessions and took a 29-7 lead into halftime.
The second UB score came after punter Jake Julien of the Eagles was tackled for a 4-yard loss at his 25. The Bulls needed only four running plays to punch it in with Vantrease running across from the 16.
On the next two scoring drives Vantrease completed 5 of 7, including the TD throw to Nunn.
In the second half, UB attempted only five passes, completing two.
The Bulls limited EMU to 25 net yards in 17 rushing attempts. UB had no fumble recoveries but Aapri Washington claimed the eighth interception of the season for the team.
UB is off until it travels to Kent State for a Thursday night game on Nov. 14. The Golden Flashes are 2-2 in the MAC but before then they have a game at Toledo on Tuesday.
At 3-2 in the conference, the Bulls are in contention in the MAC East but need help. They will get a little when Miami (3-1) and Ohio (3-1) meet on Wednesday night in Athens, Ohio. The Bulls have lost to both so they are in a precarious position as far as defending the division championship they won a year ago.