Toledo’s Tuesday night big MAC challenge: Northern Illinois

2 Comments

When it comes to the Group of Five conversation this season, the American Athletic Conference has continued to take the lead with three teams currently ranked in the top 25 (Memphis, Houston, Temple) and another suffering just one loss (Navy). With the Mountain West Conference slipping this fall, the American has taken advantage and pushed to the front of the line. There is one potential obstacle beyond the control of the AAC though; Toledo.

The MAC frontrunners are off to a solid 7-0 start this season, which includes a victory on the road at Arkansas and a home win against Iowa State. For a while the win against the Razorbacks was the top Group of Five performance of the season, but Memphis has since taken that title with a win against Ole Miss. Still, Toledo has a chance to run the table this season and add a MAC championship that would see a 13-0 program be up for strong consideration for the New Years Six bowl reservation awarded to the top-ranked Group of Five conference champion. If that ends up being the case, Toledo head coach Matt Campbell will have some interesting job offers come his way this coaching carousel cycle (he has already been a trendy name for some coaching stories this season). There is still business to attend to for Toledo before we can dive head first into those debates and discussions about where the Rockets stand against other contenders like Memphis, Houston or perhaps still Temple and Navy. First up is Northern Illinois.

Toledo takes on Northern Illinois tonight in a Tuesday night MACtion special. This may not be a dominant NIU team, but it is still a scary one when it is rolling. The Huskies have scored at least 45 points in each of their last three games to rebound from a three-game losing streak that included a good scare for the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. No team should be aware of how dangerous NIU can be than Toledo though. The Huskies have been a bit of a nemesis for the Rockets lately, with NIU claiming victory in each of the past five meetings. The Huskies took last year’s game, 27-24. In 2011 these two combined for 123 points in a 63-60 shootout. If Toledo is going to make a run at the MAC, shaking off the ghosts of Northern Illinois is a huge step forward in that pursuit. That may not be easy.

NIU will bring the MAC’s top running game to Toledo, averaging 217.5 rushing yards per game and a conference-leading 24 rushing touchdowns, 14 by junior running back Joel Bouagnon. Toledo is no slouch running he football with Kareem Hunt warming up and Terry Swanson and Damion Jones-Moore leading the charge for the MAC’s second-leading rushing offense. Toledo has allowed just five rushing touchdowns all season, so they will be put to the test tonight. For Toledo, the key will be to force fumbles, which NIU has been prone to do this season despite the big running numbers. NIU has lost nine fumbles this year, more than any other MAC program.

A win by Toledo will keep them in the thick of the Group of Five discussion, but the more important goal for the Rockets right now is simply winning the MAC. Toledo has not played in the MAC Championship Game since 2004, so it has been a long time coming. Northern Illinois and Central Michigan have dominated the appearances from the MAC West since Toledo’s last appearance in the game. After NIU tonight, Toledo will get a crack at CMU on the road next Tuesday night before playing in what could be a MAC Championship Game Preview against Bowling Green on November 17.

Toledo has some land mines to tiptoe by. If they manage to do so, the Rockets will have a decent argument at the end of the year.

In case you missed it…

Toledo is the big headline in the MAC right now, deservingly so, but Toledo is currently tied for first place in the MAC West with Western Michigan. The Broncos have somewhat quietly played their way into a good spot in the division race. P.J. Fleck‘s program got off to a rough 1-3 start with losses against the top two programs in the Big Ten (Michigan State and Ohio State) and a road loss at Georgia Southern (a blowout 43-17 setback). Things did not look great for Western Michigan, but in conference play the Broncos appear to have flipped a switch.

After clipping Central Michigan 41-39 in their MAC opener, Western Michigan has won each of the next three games on its schedule by a minimum of 22 points. Two of those wins have come against Miami-Ohio and Eastern Michigan, who are a combined 2-16 this season, but Western Michigan should not have to apologize for that. Western Michigan’s challenging schedule in MAC play is about to commence. On Thursday, they host Ball State, but after that they host MAC East-leading Bowling Green on a Wednesday night next week (a short week), and then visit Northern Illinois the following Wednesday.

If you are looking ahead, Western Michigan wraps up the regular season on the road against Toledo on November 27.

Veteran WRs coach Gunter Brewer joins Louisville staff

Getty Images
1 Comment

After a brief foray in the NFL, Gunter Brewer is back in college football and, more specifically, back in the ACC.

Brewer was announced as Louisville’s wide receivers coach on Tuesday, completing Scott Satterfield‘s initial staff.

This will be Brewer’s fourth different tour of duty in the ACC. He joined the conference as a Wake Forest wide receiver in 1985-86, then joined the Deacons’ coaching staff as a strength and conditioning assistant in 1986-87. He returned to the conference as North Carolina’s wide receivers coach from 2000-04, then coached the Tar Heels’ wideouts again from 2012-17.

In between those stints, Brewer has coached wide receivers at East Tennessee State, Marshall, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. He has tutored two Biletnikoff Award winners and a third finalist — Randy Moss at Marshall (1997 winner) and Dez Bryant (2008 finalist) and Justin Blackmon (2010 winner) at Oklahoma State. (Blackmon also won the honor in 2011, but Brewer was at Ole Miss by then.)

Brewer spent the 2018 campaign as the wide receivers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. His NFL stint ended with Alshon Jeffrey‘s drop against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional round.

Les Miles hires NAIA head coach to Kansas support staff

Getty Images
4 Comments

Stay with me here, but Les Miles has made a smart, visionary hire to help his offensive coaching staff.

Bethel University head coach Brent Dearmon is leaving his post to become a senior offensive consultant at Kansas. The announcement was made by Bethel; KU has yet to confirm the hire.

“It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to come back home to Bethel and help rebuild the program,” Dearmon said in a statement. “This place will always be very a special place to me and my family. Bethel molded me into the player I was, the coach I am, and the man God designed me to be.”

Dearmon led Bethel, an NAIA school in McKenzie, Tenn., to its best season in school history. The Wildcats went 10-1, including an undefeated regular season and a ranking as high as No. 3, while averaging a staggering 55 points and 540.3 yards per game.

Dearmon’s offense was the highest scoring unit not just in NAIA, but all of college football.

Meanwhile, Kansas is still without an offensive coordinator after Chip Lindsey left to become the head coach at Troy.

“We are happy for Coach Dearmon and this opportunity for him but at the same time we regret to see him leave,” Bethel AD Dale Kelley said. “He did a marvelous job and the team was exciting to follow. The excitement around the program this past year was phenomenal. We wish him and his family the very best.”

The 2018 campaign was Dearmon’s first as head coach at Bethel, his alma mater. He had spent the previous three campaigns as the offensive coordinator at Division II Arkansas Tech, and prior to that deposited two seasons as an analyst on Gus Malzahn‘s staff at Auburn.

Missouri, Colorado reportedly ink home-and-home to celebrate Fifth Down anniversary

Getty Images
1 Comment

Colorado and Missouri are set to reunite to celebrate the anniversary of one of the most infamous officiating gaffes in college football history, according to a pair of reports.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Friday that the Buffs and Tigers will play a home-and-home in 2025 and 2030, which was confirmed on Tuesday by CBS Sports‘s Dennis Dodd.

The 2025 game will be in Boulder and the 2030 game in Columbia, according to the Post-Dispatch. Specific dates have not been disclosed.

The pair will “honor” the anniversary of the famous Fifth Down game, an Oct. 6, 1990 game in which officials mistakenly gave Colorado two second downs in the closing moments of their meeting in Columbia. That mistake allowed Buffaloes quarterback Charles Johnson to score a 1-yard keeper as time expired, allowing Colorado to escape with a 33-31 win. Adding to the controversy, replays showed Johnson’s knee was down before the ball reached the goal line, but Colorado was allowed to keep its ill-gotten win and went on to share the 1990 national championship with Georgia Tech, the school’s only title.

Colorado and Mizzou have not met since both schools left the Big 12 following the 2010 season. Missouri won the final five games, including a 26-0 blanking in 2010, and holds a 41-31-3 all-time lead in a series that dates back to 1930.

The series will not be the first time either school faces a former Big 8/12 bunk mate since their respective departures. Missouri has a home-and-home with Kansas State set for 2022-23, while Colorado faces Texas A&M in 2019 and ’20, meets Nebraska in 2023-24 and squares off with Kansas State in 2027-28.

Colorado is set to open its 2025 season with Georgia Tech on Aug. 30 and visit Houston a week later. Mizzou has games with North Dakota, Miami (Ohio) and Massachusetts set for 2025. Neither team has another game on the docket for 2030 as of yet.

Penn State transfer TE Danny Dalton lands at Boston College

Getty Images
Leave a comment

One of the dozen(ish) members of the Penn State football program who has decided to transfer from the Nittany Lions this offseason has found himself a new college football home.

Over the weekend, Danny Dalton took to Twitter to announce that he has decided to transfer to Boston College and continue his playing career with the Eagles.  The tight end is on schedule to graduate from Penn State in June, meaning he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2019.

Including the upcoming season, the Marshfield, Mass., native will have two years of eligibility remaining.

A three-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2016 recruiting class, Dalton was the top-rated player at any position in the state of Massachusetts.  After not playing at all his first two seasons in Happy Valley, the 6-4, 247-pound redshirt sophomore appeared in three games