Buffalo, NY - The UB Bulls football team will travel to SEC Country Saturday to take on the Tennessee Volunteers (2-1) at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. The Bulls (1-3) are coming off of a 17-3 loss to UConn.
The game will be televised locally on Time Warner Cable Sports live at 12:30 pm on Saturday.
Saturday will be the second meeting between Buffalo and an SEC opponent, with the first being a loss at then second-ranked Auburn in 2006. Saturday will be the schools first ever game against the Vols. Buffalo is looking for their second win in school history against a BCS opponent.
"Going down to an SEC school and a great team like Tennessee and playing in that kind of environment I think it's going to be a tremendous opportunity for our kids," head coach Jeff Quinn said.
In its last game, the Bulls held Connecticut to a season-low 80 rushing yards but were plagued by a costly turnover in the redzone and a UConn touchdown right before the half. The Bulls offense was shutout in the second half, and UConn scored on a 61-yard completion to put the score at 17-3 late in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee's Neyland Stadium, which holds over 102,000, will be a different kind of atmosphere for the Bulls. "We need the whole city of Buffalo to come out to practice each and every day," Quinn jokingly said when asked about preparing the team for the crowd noise. "I think these kids understand how to lock in and play this great game without the interference and distractions that go on."
The Vols are looking to extend their record to 8-0 against MAC opponents and improve their overall record to 3-1. Tennessee lost to Florida on September 17, 33-23, but previously beat Cincinnati and Montana. The Vols offense is led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray, who has 10 touchdowns and two interceptions on the season.
With facing such a strong offense, Buffalo will lean heavily on an improving defense to keep pace. Led by sophomore linebacker Khalil Mack and his 10 tackles for loss, UB is ranked fourth in the MAC and 34th nationally with 27 team tackles for loss. The entire linebacking group has excelled in the team's 3-4 defensive scheme, with all five linebackers in the team's starting rotation account for 128 of the team's 318 total tackles through four games.
For work out partner and close friend Branden Oliver, Mack's success is not a surprise, but rather an expectation after a summer filled with long days of training.
"It doesn't surprise him (Mack), or me or the coaches," Oliver said. "He was born for this type of stuff. We always look forward to these types of challenges and we feel we can play anybody."
As for Oliver, who ranks second in the conference with 442 rushing yards and third with five rushing touchdowns, his tunnel vision running style has also been the fruit of a summer of hard work. He believes a locked in mentality can help Buffalo find success on Saturday.
"It's all in the preparation and staying locked in, Oliver said. "If you have the mentality to not let anything distract you, you'll be good."
Fans can watch the game on Time Warner Cable Sports, Comcast Sports Southeast and ESPN 3 or listen on 1230 WECK in Buffalo or 1280/107.3 WHTK in Rochester.