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NIU’s starting QB, WR injured in first half vs. No. 24 Toledo

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If Northern Illinois is going to extend its winning streak over Toledo, it may have to do so without two of its most veteran playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.

In the second quarter of the Huskies’ game against the No. 24 (College Football Playoff ranking) Rockets, starting wide receiver Tommylee Lewis went down with what looked like a knee injury on a play in which he wasn’t hit by a defender.  A handful of minutes later, starting quarterback Drew Hare went down with another non-contact injury.

Neither player could make it off the field under his own power.  Lewis’ return has been labeled doubtful, although even that might be overly optimistic.  Hare has already been ruled out for the remainder of the game, with the last television picture of him showed him headed off into the locker room on crutches after his father had come down from the stands to talk to him.

As for the game itself, the undefeated Rockets, which have lost five straight to the Huskies coming in, have taken a 17-16 lead into halftime.  UT’s running game is the biggest reason behind the lead as they have plowed their way to 198 yards on the ground.  Terry Swanson leads with a team-high 108 yards on just eight carries.

Lewis was well on his way to his best statistical game of the season prior to his injury as he had five catches for 125 yards and the Huskies’ lone touchdown; his previous 2015 high was 80 yards.  Hare, who had started all nine games this season, has been replaced by Ryan Graham.  Prior to this game, the redshirt freshman had attempted five passes this season.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t make note of a couple of quintessential #MACtion moments from the first half:

  • With under two minutes left in the first quarter, and immediately after a play that lost 32 yards, Hare completed a 50-yard pass to Lewis on a third-and-39 play.  That drive ended in a field goal.
  • On a fourth-and-eight from their own 13-yard line, Toledo punter Nick Ellis ran for 18 yards for the first down on the fake, and was summarily blasted at the end of the play.  That extension didn’t lead to any points as Ellis was forced to punt four plays later.

Florida to host Florida Atlantic in 2021

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Florida will host Florida Atlantic in 2021, FAU announced Tuesday. The game will take place on Sept. 4 and serve as the season-opener for both schools.

The schools have met three times previously, all of them in Gainesville. Florida won 59-20 on Nov. 17, 2007, 41-3 on Sept. 3, 2011, and 20-14 on Nov. 21, 2015.

The game will round out both schools’ non-conference schedules.

Florida will visit USF on Sept. 11, host Florida State on Nov. 27 and has a TBD home game against Samford, most likely on Nov. 20.

Today’s news means Florida has a future game on the schedule with every FBS program in the Sunshine State except UCF and Florida International. Florida beat Miami in Orlando to open this season and will play a home-and-home with the ‘Canes in 2024-25.

Florida Atlantic will follow its Gainesville trip with an excursion to Colorado Springs to play Air Force. After that, the Owls will host Fordham and Georgia Southern to round out September.

 

With Husky mascot retiring in 2021, Northern Illinois to introduce successor on Tuesday

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Northern Illinois’ husky mascot, Mission, is retiring in 2021, and on Tuesday the school will introduce his successor.

Mission II, born on July 6 and weighing a tender 14.5 ounces, will replace Mission two years from now, and the puppy will begin his official duties as NIU’s next official mascot on Tuesday.

“We have long been searching for the heir apparent to Mission, and there is no question that we have found the right Huskie,” NIU Alumni Association Executive Director Reggie Bustinza said. “Mission has set very high expectations, but there is no doubt in my mind that Mission II cannot only meet those demands, but surpass them.

“We are happy that Mission will have plenty of years to enjoy his retirement.”

Mission will turn 10 years old in 2021, and by that time Mission II will be fully versed in all the expectations placed upon the Official Northern Illinois Husky.

Mission II, a Siberian husky born in southern Wisconsin, will accompany Mission “to all eligible events for experiential learning and proofing,” which begins at a tasting for an NIU-branded beer on Tuesday evening in DeKalb.

The school has not revealed when Mission II will make his debut at a Husky football game, and in the meantime he’ll continue training with Lisa Boland while also attending daily puppy classes.

“I’m most looking forward to seeing Mission and Mission II do the job together during the training period,” Boland said. “It will be wonderful to watch ‘Mini-Mish’ learn from Mission, and see them work as a team. Mission has set a very high bar in mascotting, and Mission II will be working very hard to follow in his footsteps. I am so proud of Mission and the work that he’s done as the official NIU mascot.

“I am thrilled to have the privilege of guiding his successor to best represent Huskie Nation.”

Troy loses RB B.J. Smith, SBC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, to season-ending injury

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This one will certainly leave a lasting mark.

Over the summer, Troy’s B.J. Smith was named as the Sun Belt Conference’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.  Two months later, the football program confirmed, the running back will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season because of an injury sustained in the Week 3 loss to Southern Miss.

While the specific nature of the injury wasn’t divulged by the school, it’s believed Smith injured his knee midway through the second quarter of last Saturday’s game.

Last season, Smith led the Trojans with 1,186 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.  This season, the fourth-year senior had rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in two games.

Because of the timing of the injury, Smith can take a redshirt for the 2019 season and return to the Trojans next season.

Texas LB Caleb Johnson enters transfer portal

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Sitting at the quarter-pole of the 2019 regular season, and Texas is the latest FBS program to feel the pain of the portal.

Joe Cook of InsideTexas.com was the first to report that Caleb Johnson has placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed the initial report, writing that the junior linebacker “feels he has not fit in well since he arrived at Texas.”

247Sports provided further details as to the events leading up to Johnson’s decision.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Johnson met with the staff Monday morning to inform them of his intentions to enter the transfer portal. While the staff requested he think more about his decision, Johnson decided to enter his name into he NCAA Transfer Portal, and is listed in the portal as of Tuesday morning.

Johnson joined the Longhorns from the junior college level, enrolling early and taking part in spring practice this past offseason.  He was a three-star 2019 signee who was rated as the No. 3 JUCO outside linebacker in this past year’s class.

Through three games, Johnson hadn’t yet taken the field for the Big 12 program.