Mid-American Conference

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Weather pushes Akron-Western Michigan game to Sunday

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Myriad times this season, weather has impacted college football games.  In Week 7, you can add MACtion to Mother Nature’s hit list.

Western Michigan had been set host Akron Saturday afternoon at 3:30 ET at Waldo Stadium.  The key word there is “had” as the Kalamazoo area was hit with significant weather ahead of the conference contest, including heavy rain and lightning.

A little less than an hour and a half after the scheduled kickoff time came and went without a kickoff, it was announced that the game had been moved to 1 p.m. ET Sunday afternoon.  And, based on the photo posted on WMU’s official Twitter account, there was, other than outright canceling it, really no other option in the matter.

According to local reports, upwards of four inches of rain fell in the area prior to the game being postponed.

WMU will enter Sunday’s game at 4-2 and tied with Toledo, provided UT holds on to a 17-0 third-quarter lead on Central Michigan, for the MAC West lead.  Akron, meanwhile, sits atop the East division with a 2-0 league mark as part of a 3-3 start to the season.

Johnny Unitas Award makes midseason cut to 20 QBs

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And then there were 20.

Tuesday, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award announced that its 47-player preseason watch list has been whittled down to 20. The award has been given annually since 1987 to the to the top quarterback in the country who is either a senior or fourth-year junior for his accomplishments both on and off the field.

“The Golden Arm Award considers character, citizenship, integrity, leadership, and honor – characteristics that were displayed by my father – to be every bit as important as the quarterback’s completion rate or number of touchdowns scored,” John C. Unitas, Jr., president of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation and son of the quarterbacking legend in whose honor the award is named. “Despite my Dad’s outstanding accomplishments, he never forgot his humble beginnings and that won him a permanent place in the hearts of everyone who ever knew him.”

Last year’s winner was Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. Below is the complete list of the 20 players to survive the latest cut:

J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
David Blough, Purdue
Jesse Ertz, Kansas State
Luke Falk, Washington State
Riley Ferguson, Memphis
Ryan Finley, NC State
Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi St.
Quinton Flowers, South Florida
Justice Hansen, Arkansas St.
Kenny Hill, TCU
Stephen Johnson, Kentucky
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Trace McSorley, Penn St.
Josh Rosen, UCLA
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Brandon Silvers, Troy
Nick Stevens, Colorado St.
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern
Mike White, Western Ky.
Logan Woodside, Toledo

Western Michigan TE explains sister’s premature field rush and hug that went viral

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An explanation has been given for one of the most memorable moments of not only Week 6 but the entire 2017 college football season.

In the first overtime of what turned into a seven-overtime affair this past weekend, Western Michigan tight end Donnie Ernsberger scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass that, with the successful extra point, sent the game into a second overtime. Moments after the catch, Ernsberger’s sister, Shalene, wearing a No. 85 Ernsberger jersey, came onto the field during the game to give her brother a celebratory hug.

Again, during the game.

“She thought the game was ended by my touchdown,” the football-playing Ernsberger explained to the Buffalo News. “I was astonished that she got down there so fast. I was in disbelief that she was there before all of my teammates. …

“She was excited for her brother, and it just shows the family love we have.”

One of those teammates had a classic response to the development.

“It was hilarious,” WMU running back Jarvion Franklin told ESPN.com. “She ran right past me on the field and I was like ‘Girl, you’re crazy.’ I wasn’t mad. People were laughing and kind of got us a little more energized.”

Shalene Ernsberger was escorted off the field and out of the stadium by security, although no charges were filed. Initially, the officiating crew threw a flag and penalized the Broncos 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, but ultimately picked up the flag when it was discovered that the field rusher in question was not a part of the WMU football program.

Toledo loses leading receiver season-ending broken leg

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Toledo’s win over Eastern Michigan came with one very significant loss attached to it.

On the opening drive of the Week 6 win, Cody Thompson went down with what appeared to be a lower-leg injury. Monday, head coach Jason Candle confirmed that the wide receiver suffered a broken leg on the play.

As a result of the injury, the senior will miss the remainder of the 2017 season. The injury effectively ends Thompson’s collegiate playing career as it occurred well beyond the cut-off point for applying for a medical hardship waiver that would’ve given him another season of eligibility to use next season.

“It’s a big loss for our football team,” Candle said according to the Toledo Blade. “Cody is a warrior and he has meant a lot to this football program. He’s a guy that has done everything right.”

Thompson is currently tied for the team lead with 28 receptions, while his 537 yards are tops on the Rockets. The two previous seasons, he led the team in receiving yards, including a school-record 1,269 in 2016.

After the regular season last year, he was named first-team All-MAC.

TCU, NC State, Ohio State and Wisconsin among those who can clinch bowl eligibility in Week 7

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A handful of teams you expect to be bowl eligible this past weekend officially clinched their eligibility to play in a postseason game. This means Alabama, Clemson, Penn State, Georgia, Washington, and Washington State are now officially in the running for the College Football Playoff after each clinched the required sixth win to become bowl eligible for the 2017 season. San Diego State can also start focusing on their postseason outlook after picking up their sixth win of the season.

This week a few more teams can join the party with a win. Among the more notable names vying for postseason eligibility this week includes TCU (the new Big 12 leader in the clubhouse after this past weekend), Wisconsin (staring at a possible 12-0 record), and N.C. State (the Wolfpack have won six straight since a season-opening loss to South Carolina). At 5-1, the Auburn Tigers are also one win away from clinching their bowl eligibility, and they would become the third team from the SEC to do so. Ohio State can also join the fun with a win at Nebraska, which will also make Nebraska’s chances of reaching the postseason that much more difficult.

At 5-1, the Auburn Tigers are also one win away from clinching their bowl eligibility, and they would become the third team from the SEC to do so. Ohio State (5-1) can also join the fun with a win at Nebraska, which will also make Nebraska’s chances of reaching the postseason that much more difficult. USC is also in the 5-1 club and gets to host Utah this week in a key Pac-12 South Division matchup. Virginia Tech is 5-1 as well, but the Hokies are off this week before getting back on the field next week against North Carolina. Notre Dame will also have to wait a week for their chance with a bye week to prepare for a game against USC in South Bend. Kentucky is also off this week with a chance to wrap up their postseason eligibility the following week at Mississippi State.

A few other teams looking to lock down their eligibility this week include Navy (at Memphis), USF (vs. Cincinnati).

On the flip side, UMass and Charlotte (each at 0-6) can officially be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss this weekend.