by Greg Gabriel, Buffalo Sports Page NFL & College Football Expert

Since the University at Buffalo became an FBS level school, they are off to perhaps their best season ever. They sit with a 9-1 record with two more regular season games to be played. While it’s not yet official, UB has just about locked up the MAC East Division by virtue of Miami beating Ohio this past Wednesday night. All Buffalo has to do is win one of their final two games of the regular season. Those games are at Ohio and at Bowling Green.

The Bulls have to hope that the Miami loss took any wind in the sails the Bobcats may have had. Still Ohio can be a difficult place to play at when they meet next Wednesday in Athens, Ohio. The following week in Bowling Green, Ohio the Bulls take on the now 1-8 Falcons. To date, Bowling Green has given up 417 points, so it is a safe bet that Buffalo will win that game and meet Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game next month in Detroit on November 30th.

Headed Towards A Showdown With NIU

Northern Illinois will be the most difficult opponent the Bulls have faced since Army. While they lost three of their first four games, those losses came to teams that are very good FBS level teams. Iowa Beat Northern 33-7, Utah won 17 – 6 and Florida State easily beat the Huskies 37-19. Since then Northern has run off six wins in a row including a win over BYU in Provo on October 27th.

Northern hasn’t put up the overall yardage that UB has but they have a balanced attack having passed for 1384 yards and run for another 1802 yards. Their offensive line is big and physical and is led by senior NFL prospect Max Scharping, who at 6’6 – 322 has legitimate NFL size.

What Bowl?

If UB wins both of their final two games or even splits them they will need two things to get to a good Bowl game. Obviously they need to win the MAC Championship Game but they will also need huge fan support at that game.

Bowl committees not only look at a team’s record when choosing a team for their Bowl Game but also fan support. How much of a school’s fan base will buy tickets to the Bowl Game? By looking at attendance at UB home games, that can be a difficult answer for a Bowl Committee to come up with. Trust me, a lesser team with a stronger fan base can get the nod over UB if they don’t get good support at the MAC Championship game.

I was at the MAC Championship Game in 2008 when UB played Ball State. Granted Ball State had a much shorter drive coming from the Fort Wayne, Indiana area but still outnumbered UB fans by a two or three to one ratio.

An Easy Drive To Detroit

It’s only a four to five hour drive to get to Detroit depending on how you make the trip but there is no reason UB can and should have a strong presence at the Championship Game. If that happens and UB wins the Championship they will make a strong case to get themselves in a better game than the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Granted the pressure is on the team to win these games, but the pressure is also on the fans to support this team.

This may be the best UB team in history and the team has four or five legitimate NFL prospects on the team. Let’s get out and give them the support they are due.

Greg Gabriel

Gabriel has spent most of his adult life as an evaluator for various NFL clubs. He started his career in 1991 working for the Buffalo Bills as a part time scout under dormer Bills Director of Player Personnel Norm Pollom. He left the Bills in June 1984 to become the Great Lakes area scout for National Football Scouting. Following the 1984 season, Gabriel joined the New York Giants as their Midwest area scout and was promoted to Director of Player Development in 1996. The Giants went to three Super Bowls and won two during Gabriel’s time with the club.

Following the Giants appearance versus the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV, Greg became Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears under General Manager Jerry Angelo. He held that position until June of 2010. During his time with Chicago, the Bears won three Division titles and the 2006 NFC Championship. In his nine Drafts with the Bears, the team drafted 12 future Pro Bowl performers such perennial Pro Bowler Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman.

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Gabriel was a consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Department and has since done some small scouting roles for various NFL clubs.

Since leaving the NFL Gabriel has been a contributor for the National Football Post, the Bleacher Report and more recently Pro Football Weekly. He also is both a writer and contributor for WSCR (670the Score) in Chicago. The last three years he has authored the Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide.
Gabriel grew up in Amherst and is a 1974 graduate of Canisius College where he was a member of the football team. He and his wife Robin currently resides in the Chicago area.

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