BOISE, ID – Playing in just its second bowl game in school history, the University at Buffalo football team lost to San Diego State, 49-24, in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Bronco Stadium on Saturday night. The Bulls end their season with an 8-5 record.
Buffalo, a team which prided itself on taking care of the football all season, turned the ball over three times in the game. The Aztecs capitalized by scoring 21 points off those turnovers.
"It was a disappointing loss," head coach Jeff Quinn said. "You can't turn the ball over and expect to beat a good football team and that's what happened. We didn't play our very best."
San Diego State jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter before the UB offense awoke. The Bulls drove 75 yards and cut the lead in half when Joe Licata connected with Branden Oliver on a 10-yard screen pass to make the score 14-7 with 7:51 left in the half. For a player who has had 33 rushing touchdowns over his career, it was surprisingly his first career receiving touchdown.
After the Bulls defense forced a San Diego State three-and-out on its ensuing possession, they were back in business. UB drove to the Aztec 27-yard line and a Patrick Clarke 38-yard field goal cut the lead to 14-10 with 4:01 left in the half.
However, the Aztecs scored on their next possession and then with just over a minute to play in the half came up with an interception off a tipped pass. Just one play later, they punched it into the endzone to take a 28-10 lead with 38 seconds left in the half. The way the end of the half transpired seemed to take the wind out of UB's sails.
Things didn't get better for the Bulls as they fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half and San Diego State quickly struck for another touchdown to take a 35-10 lead. The Aztecs extended their lead to 42-10 before the UB offense got on the board again. Licata connected with Alex Neutz on a 23-yard touchdown strike to cut the lead to 42-17 with 14:53 left in the game. Neutz finished his career with a school-record 31 touchdown receptions.
San Diego State running back Adam Muema was dominant in the game and his third touchdown of the day put San Diego State ahead, 49-17. Muema was the MVP of the game after rushing for 229 yards and three scores.
The Bulls scored their final touchdown of the game when Licata found Fred Lee from 10 yards out with just 36 seconds left to make the final score, 49-24.
After a slow start, Licata finished the game by throwing for 196 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the season with 23 touchdown passes, one shy of the school record of 24 set by Drew Willy in 2008.
Oliver was named the Player of the Game for Buffalo after rushing for 114 yards. It was his 20th career 100-yard game – seven more than any other player in school history. He finished his outstanding career rushing for a school-record 4,049 yards. He is just the 13th player in Mid-American Conference history to rush for over 4,000 yards.
Defensively, the Bulls were led by Adam Redden who had nine tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
San Diego State ran most its plays away from All-American linebacker Khalil Mack as he was limited to six tackles. He did add a pass breakup and a fumble recovery. The loss brings an end to the storied career of Mack, arguably the greatest linebacker, if not player, in school history. He holds the NCAA record for career forced fumbles with 16 and tied the NCAA record for career tackles for loss with 75.
UB finished the season with eight wins, tying the most ever in its FBS era (since 1999).