For the first time in program history, the 49ers are bowl eligible, and there’s not a better way to get started than taking on the Buffalo Bulls in the 2019 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl. The Bahamas Bowl will take place at 2 PM E.T. on December 20th from Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau.
In the MAC Buffalo finished the season 7-5, also winning 5 of their last 6 games to reach bowl eligibility. This is the program’s fourth bowl appearance, and the second in the last three seasons under head coach Lance Leipold. The Bulls are searching for their first ever bowl victory as they’ve been outscored 129 to 76 in their three losses, most recently falling to Troy in the 2018 Dollar General Bowl, 42-32.
Sophomore quarterback Kyle Vantrease took over as the starter after Week 5, going 5-2 in the final 7 games. Vantrease notched a 134.1 passer rating while throwing for 1,116 yards, 7 touchdowns, and just one interception. The Bulls offense is spearheaded by the thunder and lightning combo of Kevin Marks and Jaret Patterson, both of which eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark, with the latter leading the MAC with 1,626 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
The Bulls trampled Bowling Green in their final regular-season matchup, winning 49-7 on the legs of Patterson as he rushed for 298 yards and 6 touchdowns. Leipold’s defense ranks 9th in the country in total yardage, and 6th in run defense.
This is going to be a tough matchup for the 49ers as their biggest defensive weakness has been stopping the run. With a late-season defensive surge and 15 more practices, Alex Highsmith and the rest of the Charlotte defense must bring their A-game in hopes of securing a program-best eight wins.
Buffalo will be favored, but the underdog mentality is one the 49ers have relished all season.
“Nobody’s going to have more fun on a bowl trip than we will.” First-year head coach Will Healy said following the matchup announcement.