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NCAAF: Western Michigan and Buffalo dual in seven OT thriller

On a weekend with upsets, rivalries, and top 25 showdowns, one game generated buzz around the country that no one could have predicted. Was it a great game though?


Well, that was fun. A game with 139 total points scored on 1,328 yards of total offense had everything from broken records to a fan running on the field to celebrate with her brother after a touchdown. After over four and a half hours of play, the Western Michigan Broncos finally defeated the Buffalo Bulls 71-68 in the seventh overtime.

What happened?

A lot happened in this game. Seven overtimes will do that. So, let’s take a look at some of the more significant moments.

Broken records

It may not come as a surprise that records were broken in this game. The seven overtimes played tied for the most ever in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). 139 combined points scored are the most in an FBS game, surpassing the 137 scored last year between Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Buffalo’s 68 points scored are also the most ever by a losing team.

Notable performances

Probably the most notable performance of the night comes from a member of the losing team. Buffalo quarterback Drew Anderson picked apart the Broncos’ defense for 597 yards passing to go with seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also added a touchdown run in the sixth overtime. His 597 passing yards comprised long passes of 72, 64, 54, and 53 yards.

Anderson.jpg

Naturally, with Anderson’s performance, the Bulls’ wide receivers also put up some big numbers. Most notably, Anthony Johnson caught 11 passes for 195 yards with two touchdowns. Kamathi Holsey grabbed six catches of his own for 143 yards and a touchdown while K.J. Osborn added seven catches for 138 yards and three touchdowns.

The top performance on Western Michigan’s side came from running back Jarvion Franklin. Carrying the ball a massive 37 times, he gained 176 yards on the ground to go with three touchdowns, including the game winner in the seventh overtime.

Kicking woes

This game could have been over much earlier than it was as Western Michigan kicker Josh Grant had two chances to win the game for the Broncos; he failed on both occasions. The first was with 27 seconds left to play in regulation. The Broncos sent out Grant to attempt a 52-yard field goal to break a 31-31 tie. The kick never had a chance for success as it was blocked and sailed wide left. 

In the 3rd overtime, Western Michigan forced a fumble to give the Broncos the best possible chance at winning the game. Grant was given a very manageable challenge; a chip shot from 29 yards. He rewarded his defense by missing the easiest kick of the game, and he wasn’t even close.

Best moments

There were two moments in this game that topped all the rest.

First, something bizarre happened. Western Michigan’s tight end Donnie Ernsberger caught a touchdown pass in the first overtime to tie the game at 38. There was nothing unusual about that until his sister ran onto the field and gave him a hug to celebrate the game. It appeared she thought the game was over. Unfortunately for her, the game wasn’t over and she was thrown out of the game and the Broncos were given a 15-yard penalty for her actions.

Second, there was a game winning touchdown run. The significance of this play is that it ended the game. A game that started with only 17,000 fans, ended with even less, after many left before the game was over, showing the faithfulness, or lack there of, of the Buffalo Bulls’ fans. 

Even the announcers had lost interest when, at one point, one stated that he wouldn’t get paid extra even though the game went longer. Everyone was ready to go home. Jarvion Franklin finally ended the game with a 12-yard touchdown run.

Franklin.jpg

What should be made of the game?

So, was this seven overtime marathon the best game of the week? With two teams going back and forth for over four and a half hours, setting the record for most points in a game, it would at least go down as the best game of the week, if not the season, right? Unfortunately not. For a game with so much offense and 11 lead changes, the excitement simply wasn’t there. There were a few variables as to why this was.

It was a MAC Conference game

The game between Western Michigan and Buffalo was very insignificant to anyone other than fans of Western Michigan and Buffalo. This was a MAC conference game. Unless a MAC team goes undefeated as the Broncos did last year, no one is coming out of the conference to play in a big bowl game. This game doesn’t impact the rest of the country in any way.

There were no fans

The atmosphere at the stadium was dead. There was absolutely no noise generated from anyone in the crowd other than the sister of the Broncos’ tight end who ran onto the field. There aren’t many people showing up to Buffalo Bulls’ football games. Even worse, camera views of the crowd showed fans leaving as the game got longer. The lack of noise generated by the crowd, and the lack of interest of the fans that left early, greatly affected this game negatively.

There wasn’t a lot of talent

The talent level wasn’t high in this game. Though there were players making impressive plays throughout the game, there were also many players making impressive mistakes throughout the game. I don’t want to take anything away from Drew Anderson’s amazing statistical game, but he doesn’t deserve all the credit for his numbers. 

Western Michigan’s defense was leaving wide receivers open all over the field. Any quarterback in the country would’ve been able to hit the wide receivers on some of Anderson’s long plays. The four touchdown passes of over 50 yards each speaks more to how bad Western Michigan’s defense is, than how good Anderson is. 

As bad as the Broncos were in the pass defense, the Bulls were just as bad in run defense, allowing 376 total rushing yards. Buffalo defenders were missing tackles left and right. Both defenses were terrible in this game, and the score reflected it.

Conclusion

The game made for some fun highlights, and the results landed both Western Michigan and Buffalo into the record books. However, this game won’t be remembered for a very long time and will most likely not be seen on any college classics games in the future. 

However, it was able to generate buzz around the country on Saturday, and Western Michigan came away with a victory to celebrate and something to boast about whenever they face the Buffalo Bulls for years to come. For the rest of us, we will most likely not think about either one of these two teams for the rest of the season.

What did you make of the game? Discuss in the comments below!

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Micah Reum

Born and raised just outside of Detroit, Michigan, I can still remember watching Barry Sanders running away from defenders at the Silverdome. Those days are long gone, but the impact they had on me remains, as I've been an avid sports fan ever since. You can find me writing for the NFL and NCAAF columns of RealSport, where I hope my words can bring life to and fulfill your reading desires.

NCAAF: Western Michigan and Buffalo dual in seven OT thriller

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