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Toledo thrashes Bowling Green, but will it matter?

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Toledo played a fantastic game on Tuesday night, winning 44-28 at rival Bowling Green.

The Rockets intercepted Bowling Green standout quarterback Matt Johnson on the first play from scrimmage. They scored touchdowns on their first two possessions and found points on all six of their first half touches. They led 17-0 after one quarter, 30-7 at one point in the second quarter and never allowed the Falcons to pull within one score.

Toledo displayed fantastic balance, as quarterback Phillip Ely completed 16-of-24 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown and an interception while Kareem Hunt rushed 29 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Its defense held Johnson, who entered the night as the nation’s second-leading passer, more than 100 yards below his season average an intercepted him twice, half the number of picks Johnson had thrown all season entering the game.

Toledo out-rushed Bowling Green 198-94 while holding the Falcons to 17 points below their season scoring average and more than 200 yards below its yearly yardage average.

All this while playing on the road against a hated rival.

Again, Toledo played a fantastic game on Tuesday night. Perhaps the best any MAC team has posted all season.

But while the Rockets (9-1, 6-1 MAC) went a long way to proving themselves the MAC’s best team, they may not get a chance to win the hardware proving themselves the conference’s top dog.

By virtue of a 32-27 loss to Northern Illinois last Wednesday, the Rockets ceded control of the MAC West to the Huskies – and they aren’t likely to give it back. NIU faces Western Michigan (Wednesday) and Ohio (next Tuesday) to close the season, both at home. Western Michigan is improved, but the Huskies own a six-game winning streak in the series. Ohio is 7-4 on the season, but has been outscored by an average of 51-18 in losses to the three best MAC opponents its faced to date this fall.

And, by the way, Northern Illinois has dropped just one MAC home game in the past seven seasons.

So it is Northern Illinois, not Toledo, that has the inside track to face MAC East champion Bowling Green (8-3, 6-1 MAC) in Detroit for the conference title.

But while Toledo may not have the opportunity to claim a conference championship, they do have the satisfaction of owning an emphatic sixth straight victory in a hated rivalry that dates back to 1919.

Not a bad consolation prize.

Central Michigan’s leading receiver enters transfer portal

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After leading Central Michigan in receiving yards as a freshman, Julian Hicks could already be on the move to another program. Hicks announced via Twitter he has entered his name to the NCAA transfer portal, and he seemingly has already made up his mind that he will be leaving Central Michigan behind.

“Thank you Central Michigan University for everything,” Hicks proclaimed on Twitter. “I have officially entered the transfer portal.”

By entering the transfer portal, Hicks may have contact with any other football program in the country looking to add a wide receiver to the mix. However, Hicks also has the option of withdrawing his name from the transfer portal at any time and remain at Central Michigan. Hicks will have to sit out the 2019 season under standard transfer rules. After redshirting in 2017 and playing in 2018, Hicks has three years of eligibility at this moment. Assuming he sits out the 2019 season, he will be left with two more seasons on the field at his disposal beginning in 2020.

Hicks led CMU with 313 receiving yards on a team-high 28 receptions. He also led the Chippewas with four receiving touchdowns.

Kansas State WR Hunter Rison suspended following arrest for alleged domestic battery

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Kansas State wide receiver Hunter Rison, the son of former NFL wide receiver Andre Rison, has been suspended by the Wildcats following an arrest Friday afternoon. Rison was charged for an alleged domestic battery incident and has been freed on a bond. the suspension of Rison was announced by Kansas State on Saturday morning, according to The Mercury in Manhattan, Kansas.

“Our program will be one that is built on hard work and integrity and doing things the right way,” Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman said in a released statement. “We have extremely high expectations for our players on and off the field.”

For now, Kansas State will continue to monitor the situation as the legal process plays out, which is the typical operating procedure in cases like this. While details of the incident have not been shared, Rison was formally charged with one count of domestic battery/knowing or reckless bodily to family/person in a dating relationship.

Rison transferred to Kansas State from Michigan State last year and was slated to return to eligibility for the Wildcats this fall. Rison sat out the 2018 season under standard NCAA transfer rules after leaving the Spartans in East Lansing.

Nick Saban’s hip-replacement surgery scheduled for Monday

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We already knew that one of the greatest college football coaches in the history of the game was set to undergo a rather invasive medical procedure. Now, we know exactly when it’ll take place.

This past weekend, Nick Saban confirmed that he’ll have hip-replacement surgery at an unspecified time this offseason. Friday, USA Today was the first to report a specific date as the Alabama head coach is set to go under the knife this coming Monday. According to the Tuscaloosa News, the surgery will be performed that morning by Dr. Lyle Cain of Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center.

The procedure is expected to sideline Saban for a period of 6-8 weeks, a timeline that will allow the coach plenty of time to recuperate and rehabilitate ahead of the start of summer camp in early August.

That said, Saban’s biggest concern involves a sport that’s not football.

“The only thing I hate about it is, I’ll have to not play golf for six weeks or so,” Saban told USA Today. “… But this is the best time for me to do it. I do a lot of speaking and evaluating and film work and stuff like that, but we’re not practicing. Other than playing golf, I probably wouldn’t be very active. So this is the best time, and then it gives me a lot of summer to get back in shape.”

The 67-year-old Saban will be entering his 12th season with the Crimson Tide in 2019. “I don’t want to coach for one more year. I want to coach for a lot of more years,” the future College Football Hall of Famer said in explaining his decision to undergo the surgery at this point in time.

Jacksonville Jaguars taking over Gator Bowl operations as game faces financial difficulties

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NFL teams owning (or providing significant assistance) to a bowl game is nothing new in this day and age but you can add another to the list of operators as the Gator Bowl has turned to the Jacksonville Jaguars in an effort to cut costs and help save the 75-year-old postseason game for several more years.

The Jacksonville Daily Record first made note of the moves, which were announced at the Jaguars’ annual state of the franchise presentation on Thursday. The team will formally take over “ticket sales and back shop operations.” The Florida Times Union also provided more context on the moves, which note that contracts expire after the upcoming game on everything from the TV deal with ESPN to title game sponsorship agreement.

“We’re in negotiations now for everything,” said Gator Bowl CEO Rick Catlett. “We got a good deal overall with the city [on the stadium], but not a great deal. We got to get the city to give us the same deal as Georgia-Florida with rent, concessions and parking. “We have to step up our game. We’re not going to be the Poulan Weed-Eater [Independence] Bowl. My instructions from our board is to move it forward or we’re done.”

Ticket sales and local revenue dropping were cited as the most pressing concerns to the financial health of the bowl, which is one of the oldest in the sport and has been held continuously since 1946.

It will be interesting to see if these financial trends continue for both the Gator Bowl and others at large. We’ve seen more and more bowl games get added to the docket in college football over the years but one of the mainstays to the lineup facing such challenges could be a warning that the system in the College Football Playoff era isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.