Tonawanda News — The outcome was never in question.
The University at Buffalo football team was simply overmatched by a more talented Ohio State team on Saturday afternoon, the No. 2 football program in the country.
But despite a 40-20 loss in front of a national audience on ESPN2 and over 100,000 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, the Buffalo Bulls, in the midst of a re-branding effort to become New York state's flagship school, won the day.
Sure, there were the usual head-scratching moments that have become the norm throughout Bulls head coach Jeff Quinn's tenure at UB, but the Bulls' tenacious effort after going down big early and a breakout game for star linebacker Khalil Mack on the national stage were both gigantic victories for UB athletics.
Not only was Mack, a potential first-round NFL draft pick in 2014, trending nationally on Twitter during the game, but his sensational performance grabbed the attention of the entire college football world. He finished with eight tackles (2.5 TFL), 2.5 sacks and a ridiculous second-quarter, 45-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Mack was all over the field, making his presence felt in every aspect of the game. The Bulls may have been in the game late if the other 10 guys on defense were able to step up and make a few more plays. Blown coverages and missed tackles doomed the unit, which allowed OSU standout QB Braxton Miller to throw for two touchdowns and speedy running back Jordan Hall to scamper for 159 yards and a pair of scores.
On the offensive side of the ball, two local products played outstanding under the immense pressure of national TV and in one of the most hostile football environments in college football. Grand Island's Alex Neutz was his usual reliable self, hauling in nine balls for 98 yards and a touchdown, while the rest of the UB receiving corps only managed 10 receptions for 89 yards.