BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The UB Bulls have had to face adversity throughout the entire year, but this last week was one of the most up-and-down weeks the Bulls have faced yet this season.
Riding a dominating four straight win high, the Bulls were off to take on their fifth opponent of the season, Ohio, and were looking to clinch the MAC East title and punch their ticket to the MAC Championship game.
While on the road, though, the Bulls got the call that the game would be cancelled due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Ohio program. That sent UB right back to Buffalo without a chance to play in the fifth of just six regular season games, and without the opportunity to show AP voters that they deserved to be in the AP Top 25 list.
But that disappointment quickly faded on Sunday when the poll was released, and UB cracked the Top 25 for the first time in program history, coming in at 24.
“Unfortunately what they’ve been through most of this year is that emotional rollercoaster. When we met on Sunday, Kayode Awosika said something to me on the bus about how disappointed he was that we weren’t playing because of an opportunity to assure us to win the East division, maybe get a Top 25 ranking, but I said we still have something to play for, then later that day it comes about that we’re ranked. It shows that some of these things can turn into some positives,” UB Head Coach Lance Leipold said. “Now we get together for the first time, we just came off the field today and I thought we just had one of our best Tuesday practices in a while.”
A rollercoaster is the only way to describe the week that the Bulls had. After rearranging the practice schedule due to the missing game on Saturday, UB turned their attention to their next and final regular season opponent: Akron.
“Motivation wise and getting news even after not playing, it helps our energy level at this time of the year,” Leipold said. “We haven’t played a lot of games, but it’s been a long draining situation. We’re getting at the end of the academic year, finals are coming up, so there’s a lot of things to keep into consideration. Akron snapped their losing streak, they’re an improving football team and show a lot of good signs as a dangerous team. When you put all that together, they’re going to come in here with a lot of emotion, and we have to be ready for that challenge.”
For a team that has only ever wanted to have the chance to get out on the field and prove themselves to the conference and the country, this final home game of the season is their chance to show for good that they deserve to be in the MAC Conference game.
“We’re excited. We’re excited to get back on the field, excited to find out if we’re going to get that extra game then find out if we’re going to get that bowl game. Those things change around us daily as well,” Leipold said. “A lot of things go back to the things we talk about every week, things are very fluid, and they have been since March, about what really happens.
“Embrace the day, embrace the work. If you want to be a team that is nationally ranked, you have to prepare, practice, and take responsibility that goes with it to about your daily business with everything in between.”