UB using 2018 loss as motivation in MAC Championship game


Buffalo Bulls running back Jaret Patterson (26) carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Akron Zips at UB stadium in Amherst, N.Y., Saturday Dec. 12, 2020. (AP/ Photo Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As the UB Bulls prepare to take on the most important game of the shortened 2020 season, a lot of emotions come into play.

Excitement. Reflection. Anxiety. Focus.

Reflection is something these Bulls have been doing all season long. From reflecting on back in March, when spring ball was cancelled and the players went their separate ways back home to continue to work out on their own.

Reflecting back to August, when the MAC announced the cancellation of fall sports. Reflecting back to when players, coaches, and Athletic Directors in the conference fought hard enough to get the football season back.

And finally, reflecting all the way back to 2018, when many players on this team stepped foot on Ford Field for the MAC Championship game for the first time, but left with tears in their eyes instead of rings on their hands.

After a year unlike any other, winning the championship would mean a little bit more.

“It would mean a lot. How the season is going, undefeated, ranked, we just have to finish it,” UB running back Jaret Patterson said. “Why would we do all this work and come all this way to Detroit to lose this game? I think it would mean a lot for this program, even for the guys that have left the program, I think it would mean a lot to them to the guys on the 2018 program who couldn’t get a ring, that would mean a lot for them to see us get the win for them and for ourselves.”

“It means a lot to get the chance to play. Our goal was to try to play as many games as we could this season, and to get that was one point, but the other was to try to play for the championship,” UB Head Coach Lance Leipold said. “Looking for consistency, looking for winning consistency for our program was something we set out to do upon our arrival, and over the last four seasons to do that and return to Detroit for the second time in three years, we’re going to have to try to find a way to pull it off and win a MAC Championship. All of that is exciting for our players, and I know they’re excited for the opportunity.”

“It means the world. To have alumni I know that won it, they tell us to win one for ourselves. Nobody can take that from us. We’ll be down in the history books forever,” UB linebacker James Patterson said. “When we come back 10 years from now, we’ll be like hey we won it, we’ll have good times, good memories. I want people to stay focused and hungry and live in the moment and don’t worry about the end. Worry about what you’re doing right now in the specific moment. The moment will come. I try to tell people it’s not a big game, it’s just another game for us.”

With the eyes of the conference, and nation, on them, the 23rd ranked Bulls realize how important this game is, but at the same time want to keep the intensity the same as it has been all season, and not let the moment, or the game, get too big for them.

“We feel like we’re the underdogs. We don’t want the notoriety, we want to be the underdogs. We want the offense to shine, we want them to score, we want to back them up when they’re down,” James Patterson said. “We don’t need the notoriety because we want to play each and every down like it’s our last. We don’t need the glam or the glory, that’s not what it’s for. We play for games like this right here so they can shine.”

UB is set to take on Ball State in the MAC Championship game tonight. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm on ESPN.

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