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UB football to play in Dollar General Bowl game Dec. 22

Mike Desmond

Two days after losing the MAC Championship game in Detroit, the University at Buffalo's football program learned the team will be playing in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, AL on Dec. 22 - bringing back the excitement.

Players admit they were upset last year when they weren't invited to a bowl game.

"Everyone was kind of hurt and it still bothers us," said Quarterback Tyree Jackson. "This is a real close team. You don't have to worry about guys breaking off and going their own way. I think everybody is kind of excited for the bowl now and kind of wants to go off on the right note."

UB players who spoke at a news conference were clearly excited about getting a chance to show what they can do before a national TV audience on a Saturday night.

The timing of the game means coaches will have a few days after UB's exams end to work with the players before they head south in advance of the match with Troy University. That's a team with a track record of bowl games and a victory over Nebraska this season in Lincoln.

UB Coach Lance Leipold said Troy Coach Neal Brown has a strong reputation in the field.

"Explosive offense, very good team speed," Leipold said. I know they went into a very difficult place to play, at the University of Nebraska early in the year. They came away with a win and play a very competitive schedule within the Sun Belt Conference. It's going to be a good challenge."

Athletic Director Mark Alnutt says it's a continuation of a successful football season and the third bowl game in the history of UB's football teams.

"When you have a bowl game like this, I'll make a few more phone calls to some of our peers," Alnutt said. "In the past, this game was kind of selected for the MAC champion. Toledo went there last year. What I've heard from talking to various folks, this is an opportunity for -  this bowl game and our participants, the student-athletes - to have a great experience."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.