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Big Ten to use commemorative coin to honor Sam Foltz, Mike Sandler

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Tributes to Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler have seemingly been a weekly occurrence across college football the first four weeks of the season, and the players’ conference will get on board in Week 5.

A commemorative coin will be used to honor both Foltz and Sadler at all seven Big Ten games this weekend, the league announced Wednesday.  As this is the first full weekend of conference action, the coins, with Foltz on one side and Sadler on the other, will be used for the coin flip prior to each league matchup.

The Cornhuskers have decided to use the coins for the remainder of the season.

Folks and Sadler were killed in a July car accident on their way home from a kick camp in Wisconsin. LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured in the wreck, but is kicking this season for the Tigers and honoring both by wearing special cleats.

Below are the coins that will be used, courtesy of the Big Ten:

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mike-sadler

Northwestern to pay tribute to Nebraska’s Sam Foltz with helmet sticker

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 14:  Drew Brown #34 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers is congratulated by teammate Sam Foltz #27 after Brown kicked the extra point in the first half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on November 14, 2015 at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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A week after seeing visiting Oregon lay flowers on the field in honor of their fallen teammate, Nebraska will hit the road and see another opponent pay their respects for Sam Foltz. Northwestern will wear a helmet sticker on their football helmets this weekend as the Wildcats host Nebraska for a Big Ten opener.

Foltz was killed in a vehicle accident over the summer. Former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler was also killed in the accident and LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured as well. The three were traveling together from a kicking camp in Wisconsin. In Nebraska’s season opener, the punting unit intentionally lined up with 10 men on the field and took a delay of game penalty, which was turned down by opponent Fresno State.

On Saturday, Oregon placed flowers at the Nebraska 27-yard line prior to the game as a show of respect for the program. This latest gesture by Northwestern is another reminder of the unity and family-like approach Pat Fitzgerald strives to have with his program and that can be found within a conference. Time will tell if other future Nebraska opponents find ways to share their condolences as well, but this is a wonderfully touching show of respect from the Northwestern program.

Western Michigan gets second B1G win of season, this one at Illini’s expense

CHAMPAIGN, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Jamauri Bogan #32 of the Western Michigan Broncos runs the ball for a touchdown as Julian Hylton #30 of the Illinois Fighting Illini follows at Memorial Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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If you squint and look at the standings in juuust the right light, it’s Western Michigan sitting atop the Big Ten’s West division.

WMU’s win over Northwestern in the season opener gave the MAC a win over a B1G school for a record 11th consecutive season.  Two weeks later, P.J. Fleck & Company rowed their boat to another B1G win.

On the strength of Jamauri Bogan‘s 189 yards rushing — he averaged 7.9 yards per carry — WMU ran over, through and around a porous Illinois defense for an easy 34-10 win.  As a team, the Broncos ran for 281 yards.

WMU’s run defense was their offensive counterpart’s equal, holding the Illini, which has lost to MAC schools three times in the conference’s 11-year streak, to just three yards rushing in 15 attempts.

The win was the Broncos second over the Illini in the five games in which they’ve played.  WMU owns a 6-31 record against BiG teams since 1963, although they own a 2-1 advantage over Iowa.

Northwestern becomes fourth Power Five team to lose to one from FCS in 2016

Illinois State kicker Sean Slattery (97) celebrates with quarterback Koty Thelen (17) after scoring the game-winning field goal as Northwestern running back Justin Jackson, left, reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Illinois State won 9-7. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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Earlier this week, our own Kevin McGuire wrote the following about the Northwestern-Illinois State game:

Though one should logically assume Northwestern bounces back at home this week after dropping one to Western Michigan, Illinois State is coming in as one of the top FCS programs there is. Don’t be surprised if No. 9 Illinois State hangs around longer than Northwestern fans would be comfortable seeing.

Four days later?  Wildcat fans were decidedly uncomfortable… and bemused… and unsettled… and likely plain pissed off as NU dropped an ugly 9-7 decision to the FCS school.  The difference in the game was a 33-yard field goal by ISU as time expired.

The Wildcats were held to just 2.8 yards per carry on their 31 attempts.  The Redbirds actually lost the turnover battle 2-0.

Northwestern became the third Power Five team to lose to one from the FCS this season.  In Week 1, Virginia stumbled its way to a 37-20 loss to Richmond while Washington State and Iowa State fell to Eastern Washington and Northern Iowa, respectively.

 

Get ready for the Week 2 hangover: Five games to watch this week

Battle At Bristol
AP Photo/The Bristol Herald-Courier, David Crigger
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After Florida State and Texas helped close out the greatest opening weekend in college football history the past two nights, all eyes have now shifted to what’s ahead for an encore in Week 2. Unfortunately for fans, the college football scheduling gods have not been as kind to us in the second week of the season, which is to be expected when we have been so spoiled out of the gate this fall.

The five most intriguing games of Week 2 to follow are listed below:

Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech: The Battle at Bristol will pit Tennessee against Virginia Tech on the infield of Bristol Motor Speedway. The Vols escaped an upset bid by Appalachian State on Thursday night, while the Justin Fuente Era in Blacksburg got off to decent start by pulling away from Liberty. The Vols must play a sharper game on offense, because the Hokies will be feeding off the film they got from Thursday night’s game.

TCU vs. Arkansas: Both the Horned Frogs and Razorbacks opened the season with a win this past weekend, but neither did so in a fashion that inspires a tremendous amount of confidence. Were they each saving a little something for this matchup between the Big 12 and SEC, or are there some concerns that need to be addressed by Gary Patterson and Bret Bielema. This matchup in Fort Worth should provide some energy.

Pittsburgh vs. Penn State: For the first time in 16 years, these in-state rivals are set to renew their rivalry. It is difficult to comprehend the idea that a generation of college football fans in Pennsylvania have yet to experience a game between the Panthers and Nittany Lions, but they finally get their first taste of it this Saturday in western PA. It is the first of a four-game scheduling arrangement over the next four seasons. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi has shut his team off from the media to avoid distractions this week.

Florida vs. Kentucky: The Gators were sluggish on offense in their opener before starting to pull away from UMass. Kentucky let one slip away at home last week against Southern Miss. The Gators have won 29 straight in this series dating back to 1987 and have lost just once to the Wildcats since 1980. Kentucky has not won in The Swamp since 1979. With this being the SEC opener for each, getting a jump on the division race is key, and Kentucky is already on thin ice for making postseason play after dropping last week’s game.

Utah vs. BYU: The Holy War always is worth watching because these two schools hate each other with a wild passion. Both teams enter with 1-0 records after Utah handled Southern Utah and BYU clipped Arizona in the opener. Can the Cougars go 2-0 against the Pac-12 out of the gates?

OTHER GAMES ON THE RADAR

Baylor vs. SMU: SMU still has a long way to go but could put up some offense against Baylor.

Texas vs. UTEP: After a thriller against the Irish, can Charlie Strong’s team avoid a letdown?

Boise State vs. Washington State: The Broncos were impressive last week while Mike Leach’s Cougars took a home loss against Eastern Washington.

South Florida vs. NIU: With NIU taking a loss on the road last week at Wyoming, the Huskies need a win to remain in the Group of Five hunt before it pulls away from them entirely.

Oregon vs. Virginia: The Cavaliers were trounced at home by Richmond in Bronco Mendenhall’s Virginia debut. Now they fly to Oregon? Uh-oh.

Arizona State vs. Texas Tech: Offense on offense on offense.

Illinois vs. UNC: Lovie Smith’s Illini played well in its opener and they host UNC coming off a loss.

THE TEAM YOU DON’T WANT TO BE THIS WEEK

Wofford: The FCS program travels to Ole Miss this week. You think the Rebels will be ready to unload some pent-up frustration after losing to Florida State Monday night?

FCS USET ALERT OF THE WEEK

Illinois State vs. Northwestern: Though one should logically assume Northwestern bounces back at home this week after dropping one to Western Michigan, Illinois State is coming in as one of the top FCS programs there is. Don’t be surprised if No. 9 Illinois State hangs around longer than Northwestern fans would be comfortable seeing.

Also, No. 5 Jacksonville State is visiting LSU, who lost last week in Green Bay. The Jaguars pushed Auburn to the limit last season and we know LSU’s passing game is a concern. You just never know!