Kansas State upset by FCS force North Dakota State

11 Comments

North Dakota State, winners of two consecutive FCS national championships, showed the poise and maturity of a battle-tested champion in a road upset of defending Big 12 champion Kansas State Friday night. The Bisons methodically moved down field 80 yards over 18 plays  in the final minutes of the game to stun the Wildcats in the season opener, 24-21.

Make no mistake about this one, this was certainly an upset but it was no fluke. Bison quarterback Brock Jensen was 20-of-29 for 164 yards, each pass almost always just where it needed to be on the field to move the chains no matter the down and yardage. No situation seemed to rattle Jensen and the rest of the Bison. Running back Sam Ojuri rushed for 126 yards against a team that was ranked second in the Big 12 in rushing defense in 2012.

Kansas State saw prized junior college quarterback transfer Jake Waters get his first start with the team. In his debut Waters completed 21 of 29 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns, but he was also intercepted twice. Two Wildcat receivers eclipsed the century mark, with Tyler Lockett leading all players with 113 receiving yards and Tramaine Thompson adding 108 yards.

The loss marked the first season opening loss for Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder since 1989, his first season with the program. Kansas State is also the first defending AC conference champion to lose to an FCS school the following year. Before the game Kansas State unveiled a new statue in honor of Snyder. So much for timing.

This loss will spur plenty of conversation of course. Is North Dakota State really that good (yes)? Is Kansas State really that bad (no)? What does this mean for the Big 12? Probably not quite as much as you might think.

It goes without saying the loss is a rough one for the Big 12. If we tend to poke fun at The American for a loss to an FCS team (Towson over UConn), then this should be fair game for the Big 12 as well. Except for one thing. this is not exactly the Kansas State of 2012 that went down in defeat here. This is a Wildcats team that had just two returning starters on defense going up against an experienced and cohesive North Dakota State team. Kansas State also threw in a junior college transfer hoping for the best, and nearly escaped with the victory.  Waters may have a fine season in the purple and silver, but he is no Collin Klein right now.

But let’s see where Kansas State goes now. The next game on the schedule is not exactly the easiest of match-ups. Kansas State hosts Louisiana-Lafayette  next week and has back-to-back road trips to Texas and Oklahoma state looming. things could easily spiral out of control if Snyder doesn’t get this team ready for next week’s game.

As for North Dakota State, winners of four straight games against FBS opponents (Colorado State in 2012, Minnesota in 2011, Kansas in 2010), the Bison will continue on their hopeful march to another FCS title next week at home against Division 2 Ferris State.

Good luck Ferris State.

Akron earns second-ever spot in MAC championship game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Akron came into Week 13 needing to either win or rely on someone else to lose.  In the end, the Zips decided to just go ahead and punch their own ticket to the Motor City, thank you very much.

Jumping out to a 24-7 halftime lead Tuesday night, that margin proved to be more than enough for Akron as they easily cruised past rival Kent State in a 24-14 win.  Kent actually outgained its hosts 246-191, but a fumble return for a touchdown with less than 20 seconds left in the second quarter essentially sealed the win for Akron.

Both Akron and Ohio entered this week tied atop the MAC East at 5-2.  However, the Zips beat the Bobcats in Week 12, meaning Akron is the first MAC team to claim a spot in the conference championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field next weekend.

This will mark the Zips’s second-ever title-game appearance, with the first coming in 2005.  That season, Akron beat Northern Illinois 31-30 for its first-ever conference championship.

Akron will play either NIU (6-1) or Toledo (6-1) in this year’s title game, although it’s trending heavily toward the Rockets as they own the head-to-head with the Huskies.  So, the possibilities?

Toledo wins the West with either a win over Western Michigan OR an NIU loss. Northern Illinois needs to beat Central Michigan AND have Toledo lose to WMU at home to win the division.

Report: Florida appears ready to move on from Chip Kelly pursuit if deal isn’t consummated soon

Getty Images
3 Comments

Florida’s search for a new head coach could very shortly be ready to take another twist.

Despite a certain former Head Ball Coach saying UF’s new head coach would be a current one, speculation on Jim McElwain‘s replacement has seemingly centered on Chip Kelly over the last few days. In fact, a group of UF officials headed by athletic director Scott Stricklin and president Kent Fuchs visited with Kelly in New Hampshire over the weekend to discuss the job.

While it walks, talks and smells like the university has targeted Kelly as its top choice, it appears they want an answer, one way or the other, from the former Oregon head coach sooner rather than later. From Yahoo! SportsPat Forde:

But with other potential candidates becoming available for discussion this weekend, Florida officials appear to be ready to move on shortly after Thanksgiving if a deal has not been struck with Kelly.

Potentially mucking up the works in Gainesville is UCLA, which fired Jim Mora Sunday and is also said to be targeting Kelly as a replacement.  In fact, it’s being reported that the Bruins’ search contingent has already met with Kelly.

UCF’s Scott Frost, who is believed to be Nebraska’s top choice when/when it moves on from Mike Riley, and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen are thought to be likely targets should either Kelly snub the Gators or they move on.

One very likely reason for UF’s reported urgency for a decision from Kelly is the revamped recruiting calendar. This year marks the first time that there’s an early signing period in football, with Class of 2018 recruits given a 72-hour window from Dec. 20-22 to sign their National Letters of Intent.

The sooner UF can wrap up its search, the sooner its new coach and his staff can try to hold together some semblance of a first recruiting class with the program – especially with two SEC programs, Tennessee and Ole Miss, already looking for a head coach while a couple of others (Arkansas, Texas A&M) could be on the hunt as early as this coming weekend as well.

Miami jumps Clemson, Wisconsin remains No. 5 in latest CFP rankings

Getty Images
4 Comments

The third-to-last edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and the only changes in the top 12 came at spot No. 2, where Miami jumped Clemson ahead of the pair’s ACC title clash on Dec. 2.

USC remained the highest-ranked Pac-12 team at No. 11, dimming any hopes the Pac-12 could back-door its way into the top four should chaos reign elsewhere. The Trojans were one spot ahead of TCU and two spots ahead of the Pac-12’s second-highest ranked team in Washington State. Central Florida again led all Group of 5 teams at No. 15.

Virginia Tech re-joined the rankings at No. 25, one spot behind the debut rankings for South Carolina.

The top 25:

1. Alabama
2. Miami
3. Clemson
4. Oklahoma
5. Wisconsin
6. Auburn
7. Georgia
8. Notre Dame
9. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. USC
12. TCU
13. Washington State
14. Mississippi State
15. Central Florida
16. Michigan State
17. Washington
18. LSU
19. Oklahoma State
20. Memphis
21. Stanford
22. Northwestern
23. Boise State
24. South Carolina
25. Virginia Tech

Report: LSU victory would not save Kevin Sumlin’s job

Getty Images
3 Comments

Kevin Sumlin said Tuesday afternoon he expects to be Texas A&M’s head coach in 2018. A report Tuesday night says otherwise.

Sumlin will be fired in the day or days following Saturday’s game with No. 20 LSU, win or lose, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle. The Aggies are 0-5 against LSU under Sumlin and double-digit underdogs for Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge. The Chronicle‘s report is not the first to proclaim Sumlin’s future firing, but it is the most definitive.

Sumlin is 7-4 (4-3 SEC) this season and 51-25 overall, a mark that ranks in the top-third of the SEC since joining the league in 2012 — but Sumlin is not paid to deliver top-third results. His program failed to live up to the standard set in that debut campaign, with an 11-2 mark, a win in Tuscaloosa, a Cotton Bowl blowout of Oklahoma and a Heisman Trophy for Johnny Manziel.

The Chronicle reported that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher will be A&M’s top target to replace Sumlin.