NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Buffalo will represent the Mid-American Conference and Charlotte will represent Conference USA as both institutions accepted bids to the 2019 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, set for Friday, Dec. 20 in Nassau’s Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl will be played at 2:00 p.m. ET, and the contest will be televised on ESPN and broadcast on the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl Radio Network.
Buffalo and Charlotte will play for The Prime Minister’s Trophy, awarded to the champion of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.
The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl is the longest-running international bowl game in college football history, and in 2019, the game is the opening contest of the bowl season during college football’s 150th anniversary celebration.
The early invitation allows both Buffalo and Charlotte additional time to prepare to play in an international destination, including obtaining passports for those who still need them to travel to the Bahamas as well as giving extra time for fans to make their travel plans to Nassau for bowl week.
Tickets to the 2018 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl can be purchased through at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium Box Office, online at NSA-Bahamas.com and by phone at 325-0376.
For the sixth-consecutive year, the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl features teams with winning records as both Buffalo and Charlotte will come to Nassau with 7-5 records.
This will be the first meeting between Buffalo and Charlotte. Conference USA leads the all-time Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl series 3-2 over the MAC.
Charlotte will play in its first bowl game in school history as the 49ers began play in 2013 and moved to the FBS level and C-USA membership in 2015, while Buffalo will participate in its fourth bowl game. The Bulls played in the Dollar General Bowl last season, the 2008 International Bowl and the 2013 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Both teams will be making their first appearance in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.
Buffalo becomes the second school to play in the last two FBS international bowl locations (Nassau, Bahamas and Toronto, Canada), joining Western Michigan (2007 International Bowl; 2015 Bahamas Bowl).
Buffalo (7-5 overall, 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference) is led by head coach Lance Leipold, who is in his fifth season (30-32) with the Bulls and his 13th season as a college head coach (140-38 overall record at Buffalo and Wisconsin-Whitewater), including a 109-6 record and six NCAA Division III National Championships over his eight seasons at Whitewater. A six-time National Coach of the Year, Leipold reached 100 career victories faster than any other coach in NCAA history at any level. The 2019 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl will be the second consecutive bowl game for the Bulls as Buffalo played in the 2018 Dollar General Bowl under Leipold’s direction.
The Bulls come into the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl with victories in five of their last six games. Buffalo averages 31.5 points per game, and posted 40 points or more in each of its last four victories. The Bulls average 254.3 yards per game rushing with 33 touchdowns, and that attack is led on by sophomore running back Jared Patterson, who has rushed for 1,626 yards and 17 TDs, including a school-record and MAC-record-tying six TD runs on a 26-carry, 298-yard game against Bowling Green in the regular season finale. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kyle Vantrease has thrown for 1,116 yards and seven TDs. The Bulls have averaged over 34 minutes of possession time per game.
The Bulls are stout on defense as one of the nation’s top teams in rushing defense, allowing only 95.3 yards per game. Overall, Buffalo has held opponents to an average of 22.3 points per game. The Bulls tied a school record with 38 sacks, as junior defensive end Taylor Riggins leads the squad with 8.5 for minus-46 yards. Junior defensive end Malcolm Koonce and senior defensive end Ledarius Mack each have added seven sacks.
“We are extremely excited to earn an invitation to the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl,” said Leipold. “Our past conference participants have raved about the experience and hospitality, and our program is thrilled for this opportunity. Coach (Will) Healy and his staff have done a tremendous job at Charlotte, and we are looking forward to the challenge of playing his team.”
“On behalf of our President, Dr. Satish Tripathi, I’m honored and very excited to accept a bowl invitation from the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl,” said Mark Alnutt. Buffalo Director of Athletics. “I’m proud of the season our football program, under the guidance of head coach Lance Leipold, has had which afforded us the ability to play a very important 13th game. The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl provides a destination that will definitely create memorable moments for our student-athletes, coaches, staff and our fans. We look forward to making the trip south and sharing this first-class experience with a very good Charlotte program.”
Charlotte (7-5 overall, 5-3 in Conference USA play) will play in its inaugural bowl game in the seven-year football history of the program. Head coach Will Healy, who is in his first season with the 49ers and his fourth season as a college head coach (20-26 overall record at Charlotte, Chattanooga and Austin Peay). Healy was the 2018 FCS Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award winner at Chattanooga as the Mocs advanced to the NCAA FCS quarterfinals last season. Healy will be the first head coach to lead his team in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl in his first season in charge.
The 49ers will enter the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl on five-game winning streak and seven victories overall – both school records – as Charlotte finished the regular season with a winning record for the first time in school history. Charlotte averages 31.4 points per game, and the 49ers lead Conference USA in rushing average at 213.2 yards per game behind senior running back Benny LeMay, who has 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Reynolds, who has thrown for 2,366 yards and 21 TDs. Reynolds’ top target is redshirt sophomore wide receiver Victor Tucker, who has 848 receiving yards and six touchdowns. During the current five-game win streak, the 49ers have rolled up over 400 yards of total offense in each game and have scored 21 TDs over that span.
On defense, the 49ers are led by redshirt senior defensive end Alex Highsmith, a former walk-on who had a school-record 4.5 sacks in the regular-season finale at Old Dominion on the way to 14 total sacks this season. Charlotte posted a school-record 36 sacks in 2019. The 49ers have also held opponents to 198.3 passing yards per game.
“We are ecstatic to accept an invitation to play in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl. It means so much to me that this group, especially our outstanding seniors — our Gold Standard — will have a chance to play together one more time,” said Healy. “To do it in paradise? We couldn’t ask for anything more. Nothing will ever change the fact that this team was the first to go to a bowl game in Charlotte Football history. That’s incredible, and I am so proud of everyone who worked so hard to make this a reality. We’ll have to work hard in the coming weeks to prepare for an excellent Buffalo team.”
“We are extremely excited for our university, our team and our fans to accept an invitation to the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl. We couldn’t imagine a better setting for our first-ever bowl game,” said Mike Hill, Charlotte Director of Athletics. “This team has demonstrated incredible resilience and earned this opportunity. Niner Nation can’t wait to head to the Bahamas!”
“Congratulations to Buffalo and Charlotte, along with their student-athletes, coaches, staffs and fans on their invitation to the 2019 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl,” said Richard Giannini, Executive Director of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl. “Both schools had very successful seasons, and we are very excited about the matchup of the Bulls and 49ers on December 20. We know everyone involved with Buffalo and Charlotte will have a wonderful experience during bowl week in the Bahamas and at the Atlantis Bahamas resort.”
The game will be sponsored for the second year by Elk Grove Village, Illinois, using its business slogan – Makers Wanted. The Makers Wanted tagline serves as a call-to-action for Elk Grove Village’s thriving community and the thousands of businesses that are based there. It is home to the largest contiguous industrial park in the United States, featuring six square miles and 62 million square feet of inventory.
For more information on the 2019 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, visit MakersWantedBahamasBowl.com. The game is one of 16 postseason bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN.