NIU sets pace in MAC West, Akron inches closer to bowl game

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Needing a win in order to stay atop the MAC West, and put the pressure on Toledo and Western Michigan to keep winning, Northern Illinois (9-2, 6-1 MAC) won a defensive battle at Ohio Tuesday night. A 21-14 victory against the Ohio Bobcats (5-6, 3-4 MAC) moves Northern Illinois into sole possession of first place for now.

NIU quarterback Drew Hare was your star of the night for the Huskies. Hare passed for 178 yards and two touchdowns and led the team running the football with 65 yards. NIU running back Cameron Stingily has carried the load for NIU in recent weeks, but he was relegated to just 43 yards and a touchdown Tuesday night. Ohio was unable to capitalize on a good evening from running back A.J. Ouellette, who rushed for a game-high 127 yards and a touchdown. Ohio quarterback Derrius Vick passed for 141 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 80 yards to contribute to the Ohio offense on a cold night in Athens.

Toledo gets a chance to keep pace Wednesday night at home against MAC East champion Bowling Green. Western Michigan will play at Central Michigan on Saturday. Northern Illinois plays at Western Michigan in the final week of the season. If Northern Illinois wins at Western Michigan, the Huskies will win the MAC West and head to Detroit for  rematch with Bowling Green in the MAC Championship Game. If Western Michigan wins its final two games and Toledo loses once, the Broncos will play in Detroit. Toledo advances to the MAC Championship Game with two Western Michigan wins if the Rockets win out.

NIU is likely on the outside of the Group of Five conversations unless a series of crazy events unfold in the final few weeks. It is not impossible to get enough help out of the Mountain West Conference (Boise State, Colorado State, Utah State… Air Force?) and perhaps Conference USA (Marshall), but even if NIU finishes on a roll it may not be enough to crack the NEw Years bowl games this season.

Ohio is not in any division race but hopes to play in the postseason. The Bobcats must win its season finale next Tuesday night at Miami Ohio in order to become bowl eligible for the sixth straight season.

Akron 30, UMass 7

With the win, Akron (5-6, 3-4 MAC) remains in the running to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2005. Kyle Pohl passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns and the Zips defense forced four turnovers in a 30-7 win against UMass (3-8, 3-4 MAC). John Mackey Award semifinalist Jean Sifrin had a pair of catches for 23 yards and recorded the only touchdown of the night for UMass.

Akron now needs to win its final game of the year in order to clinch bowl eligibility. They will have to do so on the road, against a woeful Kent State team next Tuesday night.

UMass will play its final game in the MAC next week, at home against Buffalo. The Minutemen will be leaving the MAC after this season, and it looks as though the football program will move forward as an independent in 2015 unless anything changes in a relatively short amount of time.

Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson takes leave of absence as wife fights cancer

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With his wife fighting cancer, Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson is stepping away from the football part of his life temporarily to be with his family. Arkansas State announced the news Monday evening. Defensive coordinator David Duggan will take over as the interim head coach until Anderson is ready to return to the team.

“Coach Anderson has decided to take a leave of absence during this difficult time to be with his wife, Wendy, and his family,” a statement from Arkansas State Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Terry Mohajir said in a released statement. “We will continue to pray for peace for his family and provide assistance any way we can.”

Anderson has been dividing his time between football and being with his wife, but there comes a time when you have to realize there is much more to focus on than football. This is certainly one of those times, and good for Arkansas State to allow their head coach to do what he needs to do during this troubling time for his family.

Cancer sucks, plain and simple.

Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list includes 2018 finalist Shea Patterson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert and more

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And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).

Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).

2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith

  • Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
  • Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
  • Woody Barrett, Kent State
  • Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
  • Anthony Brown, Boston College
  • Kelly Bryant, Missouri
  • Joe Burrow, LSU
  • Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
  • Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
  • K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
  • Jacob Eason, Washington University
  • Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
  • Mason Fine, North Texas
  • Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
  • Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
  • Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
  • Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
  • Quentin Harris, Duke University
  • Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
  • Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
  • Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
  • Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
  • Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
  • D’Eriq King, Houston
  • Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
  • Jordan Love, Utah State University
  • Jake Luton, Oregon State University
  • Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
  • Justin McMillan, Tulane
  • Steven Montez, University of Colorado
  • James Morgan, FIU
  • Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
  • Kato Nelson, Akron
  • Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
  • Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
  • Malcolm Perry, Navy
  • Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
  • Armani Rogers, UNLV
  • Nathan Rourke, Ohio
  • Anthony Russo, Temple University
  • J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
  • Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
  • Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
  • Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
  • Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
  • Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
  • Brady White, University of Memphis
  • Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
  • Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida

Western Kentucky gives two players the boot after weekend “shots fired” incident

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Western Kentucky has dismissed running back Quinton Baker and offensive lineman Preston Mixon from the program following a pair of weekend incidents involving police responding to “shots-fired” calls. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, police investigating the incidents confirmed at least one WKU football player was connected to each incident.

Whether the incidents are connected or separate was not confirmed. No arrests have been made at this time, but a team spokesperson confirmed the two have been removed from the roster with confirmation it was these two players who were tied to the weekend investigation.

This is the second time in as many years Baker has been removed from the program. In May, WKU head coach Tyson Helton welcomed Baker back after he had been previously dismissed by former Hilltopper coach Mike Sanford. He was later confirmed to be eligible to play immediately this fall for WKU. Baker had played in two games for FCS Portland State in 2018 after his dismissal in 2018. Baker had been dismissed for multiple violations of team rules in 2018. He was arrested for driving under the influence and possession of marijuana in 2016 and indicted in connection to an assault in 2017, to which he pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanors.

Baker rushed for 233 yards and one touchdown in seven games in 2017 for WKU, a year after rushing for 542 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games.

Mixon made appearances in two games last season. His loss from the roster will trim down on the competition for a key role on the offensive line for WKU.

Clemson claims top spot in preseason Super 16 poll

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The Clemson Tigers are once again No. 1 in yet another preseason college football poll. Hours after being awarded the top spot in the preseason AP poll, the defending national champions were cemented as the top team in the Super 16 Poll from the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.

Clemson received 33 first-place votes (out of 46 possible first-place votes) to create some separation from the No. 2 team in the poll, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban and the Tide picked up 10 first-place votes in the preseason voting from the panel of college football writers and College Football Hall of Fame members. Two other teams picked up first-place recognition; No. 6 LSU received two first-place votes and No. 3 Georgia received one.

Here’s how the preseason Super 16 poll looks;

  1. Clemson (33 first-place votes)
  2. Alabama (10)
  3. Georgia
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Ohio State
  6. LSU (2)
  7. Michigan
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Texas
  10. Florida
  11. Oregon
  12. Texas A&M
  13. Washington
  14. Utah
  15. Penn State
  16. Auburn

The SEC leads the poll with six schools appearing in the poll, and three others (Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi State) received points to appear in the “Others Receiving Votes” category. Clemson is the only ACC team to crack the poll. The only other ACC teams receiving any points in the voting were Syracuse, Miami, and Virginia Tech. The Big Ten landed three in the poll and has some of the top schools receiving votes outside of the top 16 (Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, plus Iowa and Northwestern). The Pac-12 edged out the Big 12 3-2 for total schools appearing in the Super 16.

No Group of 5 school managed to get into the Super 16, although UCF is the first team out in the Others Receiving Votes. The Knights trailed Auburn by 57 total points though, so there is a decent buffer at the start of the season. The only other Group of Five schools to receive any points in the poll were Cincinnati, Boise State, and Memphis. Army also received some consideration, although they are not a part of the Group of 5.

The Super 16 Poll was created at the conclusion of the 2013 season by the FWAA and the National Football Foundation. Voters in the poll rank their top 16 teams in the FBS. The poll is updated every Sunday during the 2019 season, although the first poll of the regular season will be release don Tuesday, Sept. 3 to include all games played over Labor Day weekend. The final poll will be released on Sunday, Dec. 8.