NASSAU, Bahamas — Buffalo and Charlotte each had their final practice of the season and met with the media at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium on Thursday in preparation for tomorrow’s Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.
The game is scheduled for 2:00 pm EST on ESPN.
Hearing from both head coaches and student-athletes from each team, one thing is obvious about their experience so far: bowl games are better in the Bahamas.
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“First off, I don’t know how you ever top this trip,” Charlotte head coach Will Healy said. “To think about it from our perspective, your first ever bowl game, having the opportunity to go to the Bahamas and spend five days at Atlantis, it’s been everything I could hope it would be and more. Just to be able to walk around our hotel and see the smiles on these guys’ faces, to watch them enjoy what this bowl game has to offer, it’s a first-class event. We’ve had a blast. We understand there’s still a football game to be played, but the whole experience has been amazing.”
Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold is already getting pressured to make another trip to the Bahamas.
“When you watch your families have the experiences that they’ve never seen, to see this country for what it has and presents,” he said. “I know for our family, we’ve never been here, and my wife is already talking about when the return trip is going to be made and how soon. It’s weather, it’s the scenery, it’s the beach. But just like everything we want to do in our program, it’s really about people, and your hospitality has been second to none.”
Each team completed their final preparations as the squads focus in on tomorrow’s game.
“When it’s time to lock in, I expect you to be professional enough and mature enough to lock in,” Healy said. “We say ‘act like a man, I’ll treat you like a man; act like a child, I’ll treat you like a child.’ These guys have been very mature about how they’ve handled this entire week. We had a great practice this morning.”
Both Buffalo and Charlotte are searching for the first bowl win in their program’s history. The Bulls are winless in three trips, while the 49ers are making their bowl debut.
“Especially being a senior, it’s been something we’ve talked about a lot – going out and being the first senior class to get the first-ever bowl win in school history,” Buffalo linebacker Matt Otwinowski said. “I think it’s just a credit to how everyone has prepared the past couple weeks. People have been watching a lot of film, putting in a lot of extra time. I think that we’re really prepared as a team right now to win a game.”
“We’ve talked about it a lot because there’s a lot of things in a program, and really, this is such a special matchup,” Leipold agreed. “You have two young FBS football programs playing here in this game, and there’s a lot of firsts that could happen. I think that adds a lot of extra, I would say, value to the game and meaningfulness to this game.”
The win is equally important for Charlotte, who wants to cap off the season with one more trip to Club Lit for a post-win celebration.
“Club Lit is crazy. It’s lit. It’s gotten better and better each win,” Charlotte lineman Cam Clark said. “The first win, we’re in there, the lights were on and everything. Comparing that to our last home win versus Marshall, Marshall was crazy…We didn’t come down here just to have fun. We came out here to win a game. That’s our focus. We’re focused in on tomorrow.”