Getty Images

Northern Illinois caps remarkable second half rally to beat Buffalo and capture MAC title

1 Comment

Northern Illinois was out of it. Down 29-10, the Huskies had just thrown an interception and looked like they were about to get run out of Ford Field by Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game.

Never say never when it comes to #MACtion however.

The Huskies used a 35 yard touchdown pass to D.J. Brown in the final 70 seconds to cap off a remarkable second half rally to beat the Bulls 30-29 on Friday night in a thrilling start to conference championship weekend in college football.

After a lackluster first half in the school’s seventh title game appearance in the last nine years, QB Marcus Childers and company eventually found their groove on offense to turn a likely loss into a wild win. The signal-caller wound up throwing for an even 300 yards and four touchdowns, moving past an absolute arm punt of an interception early on to find Brown deep for the game-winning score and leading the team in rushing with 58 yards for good measure.

Not to be out done, Huskies star pass rusher Sutton Smith also flashed plenty in the game with numerous quarterback hurries and added two sacks in an impact performance down the stretch from the conference’s player of the year.

The rally stunned many on the Buffalo sidelines given their big early lead and the possibility of securing the school’s second conference title ever and first in a full decade. Quarterback Tyree Jackson threw for 252 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the big stage, but was harassed quite a bit by Smith in the second half and failed to move the sticks much after emerging from halftime. He did make several impressive throws in tight windows while hooking up with star receiver Anthony Johnson (124 yards, two scores) but the two just couldn’t get in position for a late field goal to nab the win in a game they controlled for much of the night.

Bulls tailback Jaret Patterson did set a school freshman record for rushing yards in a season after recording 72 on the ground in the game and found the end zone once (teammate Kevin Marks added another 72 yards and also had a TD) as the program set a single-season record for points scored and yards rushing in coming up just short of an 11th win.

As a result, NIU remains Buffalo’s boogeyman as the Huskies are the only program in the MAC the Bulls have not beaten since joining the conference — dropping to 0-11 overall since moving to the FBS level. A berth in either the Camellia Bowl or Dollar General Bowl likely awaits the team, which will no doubt be wondering what could have been despite reaching double-digit wins for the first time ever.

Rod Carey’s group may also be left wondering how that game came about but won’t argue with the final score, which gives the program their fifth MAC title overall and second with their head coach. The team had started slow to begin the year, ran off six straight wins and then were slumping coming into the weekend but used a little bit of magic when it mattered most to wind up as top dogs yet again as college football’s first championship trophy was handed out this season in Detroit.

Report: Tua Tagovailoa’s injury serious, similar to one that ended Bo Jackson’s career

Getty Images
2 Comments

This isn’t good.  At all.

The biggest story of Week 12 by far is the health of Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a hip injury toward the end of the first half of the Mississippi State as Alabama was up 35-7.  The junior quarterback was carted off the field and, after being examined inside Davis Wade Stadium, was taken away via ambulance for further evaluation.

According to al.com, Tagovailoa is being taken back to Birmingham via helicopter to undergo a series of CAT scans and MRIs to determine the exact extent and nature of the injury.  One report from Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy, though, is ominous, to say the least.

For those unfamiliar, Jackson, a College Football Hall of Famer at Auburn, suffered a severe hip injury in an AFC playoff game in January of 1991 and never played another down of football.

It should be noted that there has been no official word on Tagovailoa’s status from the football program.  Thus far, UA has declined to go into any detail as they still await an update on the injury, which could come as early as later on today

No. 16 Notre Dame all over No. 21 Navy through one half

Getty Images
Leave a comment

When the Navy offense works, the clock bleeds, the ball ticks forward and life becomes living hell for the opponent. When it doesn’t, it can get ugly for the Midshipmen.

It’s been ugly through one half in South Bend.

No. 16 Notre Dame holds a 38-3 lead over No. 21 Navy at the half. The Fighting Irish scored all six times they touched the ball in the half, as Ian Book went a practice-like 11-of-14 for 209 yards with four touchdowns, three of them coming to Chase Claypool. Claypool caught six passes for 97 yards and scores of 47, seven and three yards.

Navy hasn’t been able to get the running game going — they run for just 131 yards on 33 carries — but three fumbles by quarterback Malcolm Perry have proven catastrophic, ending Navy scoring threats and leading directly to three Irish touchdowns. The Middies finally sustained a drive with a minute to play in the half, moving 72 yards in nine snaps to set up a 27-yard Bijan Nichols field goal as time expired.

Navy will receive to open the second half.

Upsets a mere rumor in early window as all six ranked teams hold serve

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If there is to be a Week 12 shakeup in the next edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, it won’t be as a result of the early television window.

In the noon block of kickoffs, six teams currently ranked in the CFP Top 25 squared off with unranked opponents.  And, in each of those matchups, the ranked teams held serve — in the majority of the cases by a comfortable margin for good measure.

There was, though, one potentially significant development to unfold during the early window.

  • No. 5 Alabama (-21) 38, Mississippi State 7 — The outcome was never in doubt and the final score doesn’t matter; the health of star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa moving forward absolutely does as the hip injury suffered by the junior late in the first half, and a couple of other injuries to Crimson Tide players for that matter, could play a significant role in helping to shape the playoff field next month.
  • No. 9 Penn State (-15) 34, Indiana 27 — The Hoosiers got as close as three points early in the fourth quarter as the Nittany Lions narrowly avoided a second straight loss, setting the stage for a huge Big Ten East matchup with No. 2 Ohio State in Columbus next Saturday.
  • No. 11 Florida (-6½) 23, Missouri 6 — *snore* *yawn* *ssstttrrreeetches* *scratches self* *snores again*
  • No. 14 Wisconsin (-15) 37, Nebraska 21 — Nice timing on that contract extension, Nebraska, as Jonathan Taylor rushes for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries in the easy road win. This game marked the Badgers’ seventh-straight win over the Cornhuskers.
  • No. 15 Michigan (-13½) 44, Michigan State 10 — With pleas for civility ringing in their ears, Michigan beat its “little brother” in Ann Arbor for the first time since 2012 and earned a win in the rivalry for just the fourth time in the last dozen meetings.  It was also U-M’s most lopsided win in the series since a 49-3 blowout in 2002.
  • No. 22 Oklahoma State (-17½) 31, Kansas 13 — In Les Miles‘ return to Stillwater, the Cowboys had no problem whatsoever in extending its winning streak over the Jayhawks to 10 straight, with KU’s last win coming in 2007.  OSU’s Chuba Hubbard, who entered Week 12 as the nation’s leading rusher, ran for 122 yards in the romp.

In the 3:30 ET window, there are five more ranked vs. unranked matchups — No. 2 Ohio State at Rutgers, Wake Forest at No. 3 Clemson, No. 18 Memphis at Houston, No. 19 Texas at Iowa State and West Virginia at No. 24 Kansas State.  Later on, there are six additional such games — No. 1 LSU at Ole Miss, No. 17 Cincinnati at South Florida, No. 25 Appalachian State at Georgia State, UCLA at No. 7 Utah, New Mexico at No. 21 Boise State and Arizona at No. 6 Oregon.

Additionally, there are four games in which both teams are ranked — No. 23 Navy at No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 4 Georgia at No. 12 Auburn, No. 8 Minnesota at No. 20 Iowa and No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 13 Baylor.

No. 15 Michigan pounds Michigan State into submission, 44-10

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
1 Comment

Shea Patterson threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns as No. 15 Michigan (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) blew out in-state rival Michigan State (4-6, 2-5 Big Ten), 44-10. The Wolverines outscored the Spartans 44-3 after the first quarter to easily keep their momentum going at the end of the season. It is the first home win for Jim Harbaugh against rivals Michigan State and Ohio State. Will Harbaugh be able to complete the rial sweep at home in two weeks?

The way Michigan has been playing lately, it is a wonder how Michigan lost two games this season. While Michigan did complete well in a loss to Penn State a month ago, the game against Wisconsin is one Michigan would probably most like to get a do-over in. Instead, a blowout win over Michigan State keeps the program moving toward a possible spot in a New Years Six bowl game. On the other end of the spectrum, Michigan State’s season is continuing to spiral in the wrong direction, and a 34-point loss to its top rival won’t help matters in East Lansing for head coach Mark Dantonio.

Michigan out-gained the Spartans 467-220 despite nearly splitting the time of possession right down the middle (Michigan State had the football for 3:05). Neither team gave up much on the ground, so it was the play of the quarterbacks that would be a major difference. Advantage, Michigan. Patterson had one of his best performances in a Michigan uniform, while Brian Lewerke was intercepted twice and completed 17 of 30 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. Patterson was without an interception. The player of the game for the Wolverines may have been receiver Ronnie Bell, who caught nine passes for 150 yards (although with none for a touchdown).

Bell has more than made up for his one glaring drop this season against Penn State. Coincidentally, Michigan has turned things on since that Penn State game. Since trailing Penn State 21-0 four games ago, Michigan has outscored its opponents 148-38.

Michigan will play on the road next week against Indiana. The Hoosiers lost in a tight battle at Penn State on Saturday as Michigan was playing Michigan State. Michigan’s regular-season finale at home against Ohio State is coming up on the horizon, but the Hoosiers always find ways to keep things interesting against the Wolverines too.

The Spartans will need to win their final two games in order to become bowl eligible. Michigan State will travel to Rutgers next week looking to keep the bowl hopes alive. Michigan State ends the regular season at home against Maryland. If nothing else, the schedule is about as favorable as it can get for Michigan State with bowl hopes on the line.