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1958 Buffalo Bulls Football

by Scott Hollander
University at Buffalo Libraries

Team Photo

A lot has been written about the 1958 Buffalo Bulls football team for many good reasons. For starters, the Bulls won eight of nine regular-season games and won the Lambert Cup, emblematic of supremacy in Eastern U.S. small-college football.

The Bulls opening game of the season saw Buffalo upset Harvard, 6-3, in the rain and mud in Cambridge, MA. While the offense struggled in its first three games, against Harvard, Cortland and Western Reserve, the defense kept it every game.

The home-opener on the fourth week of the season saw the greatest crowd in the history of Rotary Field, officially estimated at more than 10,000, as the undefeated Bulls took on Baldwin-Wallace College. Unfortunately, Baldwin-Wallace easily defeat Buffalo, disappointing the capacity crowd. Chuck Brady, the Baldwin-Wallace quarterback, completed 12 of 20 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Baldwin-Wallace College, located in Berea, Ohio, was coached by Lee Tressel. Lee is the father of Jim Tressel, who was the head football coach at Ohio State University from 2001 through the 2010 season.

Striking with a revamped attack, the University of Buffalo football team routed Columbia University the following week, 34-14, at Civic Stadium in front of 13,074 fans. Buffalo easily won without it’s starting quarterback Gordon Bukaty, who missed most of the second half after being ejected from the game for fighting, and first-string backs Willie Evans and Bill Brogan who were both rested due to injuries. Coach Offenhamer was named by United Press International as “Coach of the Week” after the Bulls upset highly regarded Columbia. (see “Our Coach Rates Tops Every Week” University of Buffalo Spectrum Newspaper, 31 October 1958)

After the Columbia game, U.B. rattled off four more wins out-scoring their opponents 172 to 46. Finishing the season at 8-1, Buffalo made it known that they were interested in participating in a post-season bowl game. It was rumored that they were under consideration for the Tangerine Bowl at Orlando, FL and the Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX. (see “Bowl Bid To Be Considered” University of Buffalo Spectrum Newspaper, 21 November 1958)

Buffalo did receive an invitation to play in the Tangerine Bowl on December 27, 1958 against Florida State. Initially Buffalo accepted the offer. After it was learned that the local school district, which operated the host stadium in Orlando, Fla., banned integrated games, Buffalo declined. For more information on Buffalo’s 1958 Tangerine Bowl bid, see “All Or Nothing” from ESPN’s Outside the Lines series which was first published in 2008.

The unfortunate Tangerine Bowl situation aside, the 1958 Buffalo Bulls had a wonderful season. The Bulls drew about 42,500 fans to four home games – three on the campus and one in Civic Stadium. Coach Offenhamer was named “Coach of the Week” after the Columbia win. And halfback Willie Evans was named to the ECAC All-East “Team of the Week” after the Lehigh victory. He carried the ball 12 times for a total of 179 yards and score 2 touchdowns. For a season recap, see “The Sports Scene” Buffalo Courier-Express, 24 November 1958.

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1958 Buffalo Football Season

Date Home Team Score Visiting Team W-L-T Location
Sat, 9/27/19581 Harvard University 3 – 6 Buffalo W Cambridge, MA
Sat, 10/4/19582 Cortland State 6 – 7 Buffalo W Cortland, NY
Sat, 10/11/19583 Western Reserve 6 – 19 Buffalo W Cleveland, OH
Sat, 10/18/19584 Buffalo 0 – 26 Baldwin-Wallace University L Buffalo, NY
Sat, 10/25/19585 Buffalo 34 – 14 Columbia University W Buffalo, NY*
Sat, 11/1/19586 Buffalo 54 – 6 Temple University W Buffalo, NY
Sat, 11/8/19587 Wayne State 14 – 44 Buffalo W Detroit, MI
Sat, 11/15/19588 Lehigh University 26 – 34 Buffalo W Bethlehem, PA
Sat, 11/22/19589 Buffalo 38 – 0 Bucknell University W Buffalo, NY

Home: Rotary Field, Bailey and Winspear Avenues; *Game played at Civic Stadium, Jefferson Avenue and Best Street.
Coach: Dick Offenhamer

  1. Buffalo Sinks Harvard in Mud, 6-3Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 28 September 1958.
  2. UB Nips Cortland, 7-6, for Second WinBuffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 5 October 1958.
  3. Bulls, Down 6-0, Rally for 19-6 WinBuffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 12 October 1958.
  4. Baldwin-Wallace Ends UB Skein, 26-0Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 19 October 1958.
  5. Buffalo Overpowers Columbia, 34-14Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 26 October 1958.
  6. UB Romps to 54-6 Win Over TempleBuffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 2 November 1958.
  7. Bulls Hammer Wayne State, 44-14Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 9 November 1958.
  8. Bulls Tip Lehigh in Thriller, 34-26Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 16 November 1958.
  9. Bulls Belt Bucknell for 8th Win, 38-0Buffalo Courier-Express Buffalo, NY, 23 November 1958.

Column: The sports sceneThe Sports Scene

by Ray Ryan

BUFFALO has every reason to be proud of the 1958 University of Buffalo football team.

This is a team that didn’t know when it was licked. Its offense sputtered in its first three games—against Harvard, Cortland and Western Reserve. But its defense kept it among the ranks of the undefeated elite.

Then the bottom seemed to drop out on the sunny afternoon of the first home game. Chuck Brady, a talented quarterback, passed Baldwin-Wallace to a 26-0 victory over the Bulls. You could have cut the gloom in the dressing room with a knife. The team could have been through for the season, its morale broken.

But it wasn’t. Nick Bottini, one of the co-captains, walked up to a member of the UB staff. “We’ll make it up to you next Saturday,” he promised. The next Saturday, of course, was the day of the Columbia game in Civic Stadium. It was preceded by a week of intensive drilling. Coach Dick Offenhamer worked on the Bulls’ attack, installing new features for the benefit of the lions. At the close of each practice, wind sprints were held. These make up the most unpopular feature of a football drill. The players cheered as they raced down the field. Later, in the privacy of their dressing room, the coaches talked of it in wonder and admiration.

THE BULLS put on a great offensive show against Columbia, posting their second Ivy League triumph of the season by a 34-14 score. Sophomores like George Maue and Tom MacDougall came into their own. Three starting backs were on the bench in the closing half when Buffalo scored the pull-away touchdowns. Reverses and other new offensive gimmicks worked like magic.

THE SCORING GATES remained open for the rest of the season. Buffalo rolled for 54 against Temple, 44 against Wayne, 34 against Lehigh and 38 against Bucknell. Only one of these was close. Lehigh, trailing 34-0, got the last 26 points of the afternoon. And, in almost every instance, Offenhamer used every available player. He cannot be accused of giving an opponent the leather.

PHYSICALLY, this Buffalo team is on the small side. Football games are won in the line. The key UB lineman is Sam Sanders, whose natural position is guard but who has been made into a tackle by necessity. Sanders barely makes the 200-pound mark on the scales. “Sam is the greatest we’ve ever had,”said Karl Kluckhohn, the line coach, after the Bucknell game last Saturday. Wellington Mara, the New York Giants’ vice-president, asked a writer if Buffalo had any professional prospects, in view of the team’s record. Offenhamer told the scribe none of his seniors is big enough to play with the pros. Spirit, speed and savvy made the club go.

OFFENHAMER has passed around the credit lavishly during the season. “Our scouts are marvelous,” he would say. “Some time, why don’t you write something about Karl Kluckhohn? He is our quarterback in the sky during the games, you know. He watches from the press box and sends us plays and defenses on the telephone.”

A man who also deserves a hand for this team’s success came into the dressing room last Saturday, grinning as the players smoked cigars—some in the showers. He is Dr. Clifford Furnas, the Buffalo chancellor. His five-year plan for athletics has proved itself in four years.

Buffalo Courier-Express, November 24, 1958