If you didn’t have access to television, all you had to do was take a gander at Tommie Frazier‘s Twitter timeline to see how things were going for his beloved Nebraska football team.
Facing Northern Illinois at Memorial Stadium, NU began the first quarter in the worst way possible as Tanner Lee tossed not one but two pick-sixes as the home-standing ‘Huskers stumbled to a 14-0 deficit at the end of the opening stanza. Starting with the third quarter, NU ripped off 17 straight points to take the lead. With just under nine minutes remaining in the fourth, NIU scored on a two-yard touchdown run for what proved to be the game-winning score.
The Cornhuskers had the ball two more times with a chance to win the game, but turned the ball over at the end of each — the first on downs, the second on Lee’s third interception of the game.
The 21-17 loss marked the first defeat at home against a Group of Five team since falling to Southern Miss in 2004. That was the first year of the Bill Callahan reign in Lincoln, a season that would finish with a 5-6 record; that was the program’s worst since going 3-6-1 in 1961.
This was also the first time, ever, that the Cornhuskers have lost to a team from the MAC, either at home, on the road or on a neutral field.
A quick glance at the former Nebraska quarterbacking great’s Twitter showed the emotional ebbs and flows of a game in which his alma mater came in favored by two-plus touchdowns.
Mike Riley entered the 2017 season, his third with the Cornhuskers, on the periphery of the coaching hot seat in the eyes of some. With this loss, he’s sitting squarely on it. Just how hot it gets between now and the end of the season remains to be seen — as does whether he gets a fourth season in Lincoln.
When they take the Memorial Stadium field in Lincoln Saturday, Nebraska will do so at less than 100 percent when it comes to its starting lineup.
Thursday, Mike Riley acknowledged that three starters, sophomore running back Tre Bryant, senior safety Joshua Kalu and senior right tackle David Knevel, will be sidelined for the Week 3 game against Northern Illinois that will put the finishing touches on non-conference play for NU. Bryant (knee) and Kalu (hamstring) sustained their injuries in the Week 2 loss to Oregon, while Knevel has been dealing with a lingering ankle issue.
Juniors Mikale Wilbon and Antonio Reed will replace Bryant and Kalu, respectively, in the starting lineup.
Bryant leads the Cornhuskers in rushing this season 299 yards; the rest of the team combined has 35. Wilbon has accounted for 23 of those 35, with his two rushing touchdowns tying Wilbon for team-high.
Kalu, meanwhile, has started 28 straight games for the ‘Huskers, including all 13 each of the past 13 seasons.
Knevel started 10 games last season before starting the opener in 2017. According to Riley, he hopes the lineman can return to practice next week.
While most of the 2017 conference predictions and preseason polls have been out there for over a month from the media day circuit, the MAC has held off until today to reveal its preseason coaches poll. As it turns out, the coaches in the MAC have some varied opinions on how things will shake out in the MAC this football season.
Ohio and Toledo were each selected to win the MAC East and West Divisions, respectively, by the coaches of the MAC, although a few others received first-place votes in each division as well. Ohio picked up nine first-place votes in the East to pull ahead of Miami. Ohio won the division last season and hopes to clinch its first MAC championship since 1968. Ohio has never played in back-to-back MAC Championship games, so returning to the game this year would mark a first for the Bobcats.
Toledo last won the MAC in 2004 but the Rockets are widely considered a conference favorite this season. Still, the coaches in the MAC have a different take on the West Division with four other teams receiving first-place votes. Toledo still received seven first-place votes, but defending conference champion Western Michigan picked up two, and Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, and Ball State each received a first-place vote from the MAC coaches.
Here is how the MAC coaches poll looks. For reference, the preseason media poll also tabbed Ohio and Toledo, with the Rockets being named the preseason conference championship favorite. The coaches did not vote on a preseason conference champion.
2017 MAC Head Football Coaches Preseason Poll
Team (First Place Votes) Points
MAC East Division
- Ohio (9) 69
- Miami (3) 61
- Bowling Green 45
- Akron 41
- Buffalo 20
- Kent State 16
MAC West Division
- Toledo (7) 66
- Western Michigan (2) 58
- Northern Illinois (1) 45
- Eastern Michigan 35
- Central Michigan (1) 31
- Ball State (1) 17
Another day, yet another watch list as the 2017 offseason barrels towards a merciful death.
This time around it’s the Jim Thorpe Award doing the honors, with the trophy given annually to the nation’s top defensive back releasing a watch list consisting of a mere 45 players from all 10 FBS conferences. Headlining this year’s list are a pair of semifinalists from a year ago, Louisville’s Jaire Alexander and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The ACC and SEC lead all conferences with seven players apiece selected, followed by the Pac-12’s six and five each for the Big Ten and Big 12. Conference USA was next with four, while the AAC, MAC and Sun Belt had three and the Mountain West two.
Alabama, Florida State and Stanford were the only programs with two players each selected.
USC’s Adoree’ Jackson won the 2016 version of the Thorpe Award. The other finalists for last year’s trophy were Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis and LSU’s Tre’Davious White. All three of those players were selected in the 2017 NFL draft.
In yet another sign that the offseason is quickly coming to an end and another season is rapidly approaching, the Outland Trophy has become the latest college football award to release its preseason watch list.
Given annually to the nation’s top interior linemen on either side of the ball, the Outland’s watch list this year consists of 81 players from all 10 FBS conferences. Headlining that group are Washington State senior guard Cody O’Connell (pictured, No. 76) and Texas junior offensive tackle Connor Williams, two of the three finalists for the 2016 award won by Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson.
From the release, courtesy of the Football Writers Association of America:
The ACC (17) led all conferences with members on the Watch List, followed by the Big Ten and SEC (11 each), Pac-12 (10), American Athletic (9), Big 12 and Mid-American (6 each), Independents and Mountain West (4 each), Conference USA (2) and Sun Belt (1).
The list includes 24 offensive tackles, 21 defensive tackles, 20 centers and 16 offensive guards.