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  1. 18 likes
    -by Kenny Oberst, special to the MAC Network "Supposed To." There was a lot of talk before the MAC Championship game kicked off, and very little of it had to with the game itself. After all, it seemed pretty straightforward. Under the guidance of their longtime coach deathcpo, Toledo was the class of the MAC, its “Chosen One.” In a conference still searching for relevancy, the Rockets were far enough ahead of the rest that their sights were set on something higher than winning the conference; an eventual place in the CFBHC playoffs. It almost felt like winning the MAC was just something Toledo was supposed to do on their way to the playoff conversation. The Ohio Bobcats, on the other hand, weren’t supposed to be here - a 1-4 start to the season will put that in many people’s minds. Ohio then hired coach beeznik after NDNathan departed from the program, and the turnaround was stark even if no one noticed. The Bobcats went on the quietest tear you’ll ever (not) see, winning five in a row and six of their last seven to end the season. Included in that winning streak was a 24-21 victory over Buffalo in week 10 that gave the Bobcats the MAC East division, spoiling the storyline of the two last original MAC coaches facing each other in the Championship game. Even with Ohio’s stud RB Owen Walton piling up over 1200 yards and 12 TDs, it somehow felt to many like the Bulls were supposed to be here instead. Things went as they were supposed to at first. A 45-yard opening kickoff return by WR Thomas Yang gave the Rockets great field position on their first possession and not even four minutes later, QB Benjamin Hanson found his big tight end Nate Linsley down the middle for an 8-yard score. And then the game stalled. For nearly twenty minutes of game clock neither team could consistently move the ball, trading punts and possessions like hot potatoes. Toledo linebacker Shia Reeder and his Ohio counterpart Calvin Blue made their presences known during this time, snuffing would-be third down conversions seemingly at will. Toledo would finally break through again, with Noah Cohen connecting on a 39-yarder to give the Rockets a 10-0 lead. And yet…. And yet there was a sense in the stadium that things may not be playing out exactly like they were supposed to. Wasn’t Toledo a multiple-score favorite? Aren’t they supposed to just blow out their opponents in the first half like they’ve done multiple times this season? CB Adam Haywood did his best to calm the Rocket fans’ fears, picking off a Stephen Peters pass at the Toledo 27 and giving the Rockets one last chance to extend the lead. However, Cohen’s 52-yarder pushed wide right as the half expired, and the teams entered the locker room with the score Toledo 10 - Ohio 0, and with those worried mutterings still in the air. The Bobcats came out for the second half determined. They felt they had taken Toledo’s best yet were within striking distance. Bookended by a pair of pass interference penalties, Owen Walton began to exert his will on the Toledo defense with bruising downhill runs - 30 of his 148 total rushing yards came on this drive. Not even three minutes after the half started, Timmy Wilhelm kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Bobcats their first points of the game and suddenly Ohio was within a score. Toledo answered with a long drive, ending in Cohen kicking his second field goal of the game to restore the Rockets’ 10-point lead. But the uneasiness remained for the Toledo faithful. “This isn’t how this game is supposed to go,” was written all over their faces. And then Ohio’s next drive happened. On third-and-four from the Bobcat 31 Walton plunged into a stacked line of scrimmage, but he didn’t have the ball. The playcall, taking advantage of a hyper-aggressive defense, instead went from Peters to TE Caleb Holman on a corner route for 23 yards. On the very next play, Ohio ran a counter. Walton took the handoff, juked a linebacker that drifted too far inside, and went off to the races. Toledo’s safety knocked him out of bounds at the four, but it didn’t matter. Walton took it up the middle for the score on the very next play. The funny thing is that at this point Toledo is still winning. Maybe it was because Ciamo was finding no room to run or maybe it was because Toledo felt like they needed to reestablish their swagger by scoring quickly, but the Rockets chose to pass and pass often. It worked before - during Toledo’s week seven game against Bowling Green, Hanson tossed two fourth quarter touchdowns to give the Rockets the comeback win. It didn’t work here. Ohio CB Michael Newman made a beautiful play on a deep route, snaking his hand in between the two belonging to Yang and stealing the ball from the wideout. Then after seven minutes of nondescript back-and-forth resembling that long stretch in the first and second quarters, Toledo found themselves with a second-and-five at midfield. Hanson threw a slant behind WR Aaron Hughes who could only futilely swipe at it. FS Robert Mahoney was there to catch the deflection and return it to the Toledo 22 and now with just under four minutes to go, the promised land was within sight for the Bobcats. Steady was their march. 1st & 10, Toledo 22 - Owen Walton off left tackle for six yards. 2nd & 4, Toledo 16 - Owen Walton up the middle for two. 3rd & 2, Toledo 14 - Jeffery Templeton on a speed out for his only catch of the game, but a crucial three yards and a first down on the reception. 1st & 10, Toledo 11 - Owen Walton tackled in the backfield for a three yard loss. 2nd & 13, Toledo 14 - Play-action faking the toss to Walton, Stephen Peters to Caleb Holman for 12 yards. 3rd & 1, Toledo 2 - Owen Walton, 2 yd TD run - 1:30 (17-13) “This wasn’t how the game is supposed to go!” screamed the announcers in their booth. “Has Ohio just done what everyone said they couldn’t and knocked off Toledo?!” The following squib kick was returned to the 29 and Toledo had 71 yards, 82 seconds, and 1 timeout to pull off their own miracle. But the Bobcat defense, which had been so strong throughout the entire game, rose up and met the challenge once more. If it was a throw near the sidelines, Ohio was there to knock it away. A throw down the middle was caught if short but always seemed to have multiple defenders nearby if it traveled more than 10 yards. Toledo was put in a sandbox that was nine yards deep and as wide as the hash marks, and all the while the clock ticked, ticked on. The final play seemed almost anti-climactic. Ohio was made of magic during the game – in how they held Gabe Ciamo to 57 yards, in how they came up with two crucial interceptions, in how a playfake and a juke result in momentum turning for the Bobcats even though they were still losing. They were so magical that there was none left for the Rockets, Hanson's Hail Mary knocked down eight yards shy of the endzone. Hordes of Ohio fans stormed the field past stunned Toledo supporters, jumping and screaming joyously. In their midst a sideline reporter interviewed coach beeznik, “Coach, congratulations on an incredible victory. All the pundits had Toledo winning this game easily, how did you pull off the upset?” The coach smiled. “What were we supposed to do, let them win?” Final Score: Ohio Bobcats 17 - Toledo Rockets 13
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    Graham Burnett began his Oklahoma career with a win over Alabama in New Orleans. Staring down the Crimson Tide once again, the junior bound for the NFL next season very much intends to make sure his career doesn't end against Alabama as well. The Big XII bowl season begins in Miami (or thereabouts) between two of the programs with the longest pedigrees in the country. Alabama is the defending national champion, and the only two-time title-winner at that. Oklahoma is a national champion as well, having won their title in the greatest game ever played in 2015--and regardless of how these playoffs go, they've secured their third 12-win season. Blend these two programs' historical success, their current success, and the star power on these two teams, and you have one of the most compelling bowl matchups of the season. Burnett is a very different quarterback than he was when he first took on the Tide. In that effort, he threw three interceptions to one touchdown, but a combination of strong defense and Sean Egloff were enough to push Oklahoma over the top against their sixth-ranked foes. This time around, he is the veteran field general and the rest of the offense depends on him. He's thrown for a career-best 3432 yards and 30 touchdowns this season--as many touchdowns as he'd thrown for in his freshman and sophomore seasons combined. His accuracy has reached another level: he's completed 70% of his passes seven times this year, including five times in the last six games. He completed 80% of his passes in the Big XII title game against Baylor. He'll need every bit of that pinpoint accuracy against an imposing Alabama defense that ranks 5th in the country in points allowed per game. Alabama likes to get pressure, mostly coming off of left tackle thanks to sophomore sensation Sebastian Smallwood (9.0 sacks out of the team's 15.5). But they're even better in coverage, with a highly experienced secondary ready to pounce on any mistakes a quarterback makes. Cornerback Michael Hernandez leads the team with 5 picks, free safety James White adds 3 (and plenty of passes defended otherwise), and five other Bama defenders have at least one pick to their name. Alabama's got a pair of world-class safeties, but they're thinner at cornerback once you get past Hernandez. Oklahoma will need to rely on a steady offensive line, its deep set of receivers, and (of course) its star quarterback to keep the ball moving down the field. The biggest change in this matchup from 2017 to the present day comes under center on the other side. Rory Weston stepped into Tuscaloosa in time for the 2018 season, and in his first season as the Alabama starter he led the Tide to an undefeated season and a national championship. He's been on a tear this year as well, going 285-461 for 3543 yards, 29 touchdowns, and just 5 interceptions in 12 games. Most of that yardage goes to just two targets: fifth-year senior William Anderson and true freshman A.J. Edwards. They've been tearing apart opposing defenses with almost alarmingly equivalent precision: Anderson has 69 receptions for 1022 yards and 9 touchdowns while Edwards has caught 73 balls for 1019 yards and 8 scores. Tight end Omar Pruitt (467 yards) and slot receiver Joseph Mulinu'u (422 yards) provide a couple of complementary options, but it's Anderson and Edwards who are the big threats. Oklahoma's defense has generally been unforgiving against the pass, allowing opponents to complete just 56.7% of their passes for 187.5 yards per game. They get pressure to the tune of 19 sacks on the season, and they've picked off 11 passes to 11 touchdowns allowed. But despite that, the two most successful offenses against Oklahoma (Kansas and Oklahoma State) were pass-heavy. Alabama will have to figure out where Eric Jennings and Chester Brenner succeeded and where Marcus Swartz, Mohammed Foster, Kyle Davidson, Grant McConnell, and other talented quarterbacks fell short. The X-factor in this game headlined by passers, pass-rushers, pass-catchers, and pass defenders will be the runners. Oklahoma will need to establish Maurice White earlier rather than later. White's 113.2 yards per game ranks third in the Big XII, and his 5.18 yards per carry rank second among the league's runningbacks. Big Mo is capable of providing Oklahoma with some big momentum, if you'll believe the testimony of Buffalo (121 yards and 2 TD), Kansas (109 yards and 2 TD), Baylor (117 yards and 2 TD), or especially Texas Tech (238 yards and 4 TD). He can bust tackles, fight for extra yards, and break off a big run every now and then as well. That's an advantage that Alabama doesn't have. The Tide have yet to find any kind of consistent production on the ground this year: Chase Dillard struggled in the first five games, so they moved fullback Emanuelu Tuimaleali'lfano to runningback. Tuimaleali'lfano had one strong game followed by three underwhelming performances, so they brought Dillard back for the final three games. It's worth noting that Weston never threw more than 29 times in a game before Tuimaleali'lfano got the start, and he's thrown more than 40 times in every game since. The Alabama offense has evolved into a pass-first and pass-second kind of unit, but that still hasn't put a damper on them--yet. Alabama's offensive equation basically comes down to whether the line can hold up long enough for Rory Weston to get the pass away and pick on a strong but vulnerable Oklahoma secondary--particularly freshman free safety Julian Foster. I'm not betting on that happening. Oklahoma's sack leader is defensive tackle David Jackson (7.0 sacks), and I don't think Bama center Lucas Hurd (along with the two talented offensive guards beside him) is a matchup he's going to win more often than not. Second to Jackson is freshman outside linebacker Jeremy Green (5.0 sacks). Oklahoma's defensive ends have collected 3.5 sacks (Russell Greer) and 1.5 sacks (Thomas Goss) all season. Alabama's weakest on the right side of the line--Goss probably can't make them pay for it, so Oklahoma's ability to get pressure will likely depend on Jeremy Green. All in all, I think Weston's going to have as much time in the pocket as he wants on just enough plays that the offensive equation works in Alabama's favor. But I also think Oklahoma's offense should be able to find some purchase against Alabama's defense, and these teams are very evenly matched. Ultimately, this pick comes down to the fact that Graham Burnett has the hot hand as of late, and he'll be able to take advantage of even the tiniest crack in the Bama defense. Burnett's first game against Alabama was a 24-20 win for Oklahoma. I like that score here as well. #4 Oklahoma 24, #5 Alabama 20 Presented by the Big XII Network
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    EDIT: Sigh, so table didn't work as intended. I'll figure it out after work. EDIT the 2nd: Yay! EDIT the 3rd: WTF? EDIT the Final: Holy shit why are tables so hard- Bowl Challenge Cup (* = Playoff participant) Conference Record Winners Losers Yet to Play American Athletic Conference 4-2 (0.667) East Carolina SMU Temple UCF Navy USF Atlantic Coast Conference 5-7 (0.417) Boston College Clemson* (x2) Florida St. Syracuse Clemson* Georgia Tech Louisville N. Carolina St. Pitt Virginia Virginia Tech Big Twelve 5-3 (0.625) Iowa State Kansas Texas Texas Tech West Virginia Baylor* Oklahoma* Oklahoma St. Big Ten 10-4 (0.714) Illinois Maryland Michigan Michigan State Ohio State Penn State* (x3) Purdue Rutgers Indiana Minnesota Nebraska Wisconsin Conference USA 0-4 (0.000) Marshall Rice Southern Miss Western Kentucky Mid-American Conference 2-3 (0.400) Ohio Western Michigan Buffalo Central Michigan Toledo Mountain West Conference 2-3 (0.400) Hawaii San Diego St. Air Force Fresno St. Nevada* Pacific-12 Conference 2-6 (0.250) California USC Arizona Arizona St. Colorado Oregon Utah Washington St.* Southeastern Conference 5-6 (0.455) Alabama* Georgia LSU Mississippi St. Tennessee* Vanderbilt Alabama* :arkansas: Arkansas :auburn:Auburn :mizzou: Missouri :vols:Tennessee* :CFBHC: Independents 2-1 (0.667) :byu: BYU :nd: Notre Dame :gsu: Georgia State
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    UCLA is pleased to announce that they have hired a new head football coach to replace okoonkwoco who stepped down last week. Former Wyoming head coach JBax has been hired to lead the Bruins football team. Although JBax has limited experience coaching at the Div I level, we believe that he is the right man for the job to lead the Bruins back to the top of the Pac-12 Conference. UCLA has had a history of hiring young, up-and-coming coaches and creating an environment for them to thrive. We believe that JBax will be the next of those young talent coaches to lead the Bruins forward. JBax had this to say: "I am so happy to be here at UCLA. I think that there is a lot of talent on the roster and that we will be able to continue to bring in recruits from California and return UCLA to the upper tier of the Pac-12 Conference. I am excited to learn and grow with this team."
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    GG USF! Holy cow. This season has been SO much better than I hoped for when I started playing. I can't wait for the next one! #IsIt2020Yet
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    Bowl Challenge Cup The Bowl Challenge Cup is awarded at the end of bowl season to the conference with the highest winning % in their bowl games.(Min of 3 games required) Standings through Bowl Game Day #3 AAC - 0-1(.000) ACC - 1-0(1.00) B12 - 1-2(.333) B10 - 1-1 (.500) USA - 0-1(.000) MAC - 1-1(.500) MWC - 1-1(.500) PAC12 - 0-1(.000) SEC - 2-0(1.00) Independents - 2-1(.666)
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    Great Game Ted! Nearly a miserable comeback in the last 4 minutes. Somehow we held on. I'm gonna miss you Eric Holder!
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    FINAL SCORE: Michigan 42-17 Arizona PAC...Pac...pac...
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    Wow couldn't even put up 49? Michigan sucks dude
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    Mamadou Bellamy putting in his early claim on the 2020 Heisman. Or not. Who cares? I just won a bowl game and finished at 8-5 in a season that I thought would be a waste. Congrats to the Bowl Chairman (Soluna) on making this matchup. It was a competitive matchup despite WKU's record. He got it right by putting them in the bowl season. I don't care what his 69 rating says...someone gets a good football player in Matthew Nelson. I won't be ashamed to draft him late if he's still there.
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    Lucas Rodriguez, CNN What is your response to the allegations that you fund ISIS terrorism? There were rumors of money laundering from LA Tech alumni to ISIS sympathizers in Europe.
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    After a respectable 4-8 season to start off his head coaching career, xkl219 signs a contract extension through the 2022 CFBHC season. He will receive approximately $1 million annually, not including bonuses. "I'm ready to get to work," said the youngest second youngest coach in CFBHC history. #RollWave
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    i am impressed every time I read one of your write ups. Very impressive and enjoyable read.
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    This could easily have been the difference in the OU/Bama game. Punting 36.5 48.2
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    Thank you for coming to Central Michigan and taking the program to new heights, Walt. The community at Mount Pleasant appreciates what you've done for this school.
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    #4 vs #5 (Miami Gardens, FL/+4) Bay Area Bowl (Santa Clara, CA/+2/+1) vs New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM/+2/+1) vs
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    I wanted to leave because I thought I didn't fit in, even though their team is full of talent and potential, i didn't think LA Tech would be anything for the future, with Wyoming, I feel as they have enough talent to compete Week in and week out and still be able to help players progress into stars
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    The kickoff to the [2020] B1G Championship pls
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    Graham Burnett is the next Christian Skaggs confirmed.
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    Donaldo Winkler, Reporting Intern, Waco Tribune, With a lot of the coaching moves going on currently, what made you want to leave Louisiana Tech in the first place?
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    He really pulled a Rome with this.
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    We couldn't win for Walt in his final game. RIP You Beautiful Bastard
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