The Nittany Lions opened their season with a 79-7 trouncing of Idaho. It was a game that saw many positives from the young Penn State Football team, and many many faces. Starting quarterback Sean Clifford looked nervous to start, but after a conversation with receiver KJ Hamler, the redshirt sophomore settled into his new role nicely. There were touchdowns from five different running backs and the game allowed the coaching staff to see many different players. Now though, it is time to move focus to Buffalo. Penn State and Buffalo have a history dating back to 1900. This will be the fourth meeting between the two. The Nittany Lions lead the series 2-1.
Penn State and Buffalo Have History
Before we look ahead to this week’s matchup it is only fitting that we take a look back at where this series has been. Penn State and Buffalo have been playing football against each other since 1900 when the Nittany Lions traveled up to Buffalo, NY on a very cold November day.
November 29, 1900
I’m not sure if you have ever been to Buffalo, NY in November, but I lived about an hour and a half from there last year and it was cold. Snow on the ground, wet, wind chill that is often below or close to zero, cold. I can only imagine what it was like playing there in 1900 without heaters and other cold gear we have today. The game ended 10-0 in favor of Buffalo. Historians say that most of the game was played in Buffalo’s half of the field. Penn State almost scored in the first half, but Buffalo’s defense held strong.
Buffalo’s player-coach Seth Thomas was responsible for the only two touchdowns of the game in the second half. According to reports, Penn State Head Coach William “Pop” Gold stated that if the field was dry and the visitor’s locker room was heated, it would have been a much different outcome.
Penn State and Buffalo did not meet again until 2007, and it was indeed a much different outcome.
September 15, 2007
107 years after the first meeting Penn State and Buffalo met again. This time it was in Beaver Stadium in September. The Nittany Lions were ranked No. 12 and won the contest 45-24. Senior quarterback Anthony Morelli threw for 202 yards with four touchdown passes. He was the first to do so since Penn State great Michael Robinson. The defensive strength highlighted the match up. The offense had big numbers in the end, but the defense carried the team throughout. The Nittany Lion defense held the Bulls to 56 rushing yards. Linebackers Dan Connor and Sean Lee each had 12 tackles in the contest. The issue came for the Nittany Lions in the secondary, which allowed 339 yards through the air.
September 12, 2015
The Bulls did not have to wait another 100 years to face Penn State again. Buffalo ventured south for another meeting in Beaver Stadium eight years later. This time Penn State won again 27-14. Historically between the two, Buffalo does not leave without putting up a fight, and 2015 was no different. Penn State had just lost their opener to Temple and was looking for a quick bounce-back win. The Bulls were not willing to do that for the Nittany Lions. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg threw for 128 yards and one touchdown.
Freshman running back Saquon Barkley had 115 rushing yards and one touchdown. He also hurdled a defender on a 33-yard run. Something he still does for the Giants in the NFL. Penn State held Buffalo scoreless through the first half but allowed a touchdown in both the third and fourth quarters, which kept the Bulls in the game. Special teams and a consistent offensive line won this one for the Nittany Lions.
September 7, 2019
The upcoming meeting between the two teams is this Saturday once again at Beaver Stadium. It will be played at 7:30 pm ET. It won’t be cold like the first meeting in 1900 and it’s not 1900, which I think was a contributing factor for the loss. Playing football in 1900 was a completely different situation. So, let’s look at what needs to be taken from the last two meetings for Penn State to win again.
The defense highlighted the win in 2007. This is something that Penn State is able to replicate this weekend. The defense dominated Idaho a week ago and played most of the game without starters. Cam Brown is back for the entire game. Micah Parsons was kept out of a majority of the contest as well. Those two being on the field at the same time will likely be hard for Buffalo to handle. In addition, the secondary is strong for Penn State but needs to capitalize more. John Reid had the lone interception against Idaho in a game that saw many more opportunities.
The next meeting in 2015 was won by special teams and an improved offensive line. This Penn State team has a much improved special teams unit from a season ago. Further, the offensive line has much more depth than previous seasons. Transfer placekicker Jordan Stout made his presence known immediately in the season opener. Stout had 13 kick-offs, all of which were touchbacks. In addition, he hit a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter. The added depth on the offensive line allows Penn State to give veterans a break in games like the ones against Idaho, which will allow the unit to fair better later in the season.
Penn State and Buffalo History Meets Again
All three aspects of the last two games need to be present to get a statement win against a historically tough team on Saturday. Penn State has had trouble with the Bulls in the past. Hopefully, the fast, strong, and young talent that the Nittany Lions have will be too much for Buffalo to handle on Saturday. In order for Penn State to get their second statement win of the season, the defense needs to continue playing at an elite level, Clifford needs to stay calm and remember who he has around him, and special teams needs to keep the momentum going. It is likely that Penn State will get their second win of the season under the lights in Beaver Stadium.