CI Week 15 Football Highlights

The bowl schedule was announced this weekend and we're less than two weeks away from Utah State (CB Coach Mark Orphey & Passing Game Coor./WR Jason Phillips) and Kent State Safeties Coach Will Windham kicking things off in the Frisco Bowl. Overall, 32 CI coaches will be participating in bowl games this season. Please find this week's highlights and a full schedule of bowl games involving CI coaches below.

Chargers crush Jaguars, 45-10
There are no moral victories in the NFL and so the fact that all of the Chargers' eight losses have come by seven points or fewer is no consolation to LA WR Coach Phil McGeoghan (@PhilMcGeoghan) or RB Coach Alfredo Roberts. But on Sunday, the Chargers left nothing to chance in blowing out the Jaguars in a game that was never in doubt. With QB Phillip Rivers turning 38, the Chargers' playmakers made sure their signal caller could celebrate his birthday in style. RB Austin Ekeler provided the biggest cause for celebration when he took a screen pass 84 yards for a touchdown on LA's first drive of the second half. Ekeler's reception represented the longest touchdown of Rivers' 16-year NFL career. Later in the third quarter, Chargers WR Mike Williams helped provide the finishing touches when he caught a 44-yard touchdown pass to put the visitors up 38-10. For the game, Ekeler racked up 101 rushing yards to go along with 112 receiving yards, while Keenan Allen led all receivers with five catches for 83 yards. Congratulations to McGeoghan and Roberts on the dominant win!

Late TD lifts Memphis over Cincinnati in AAC Championship
When John Simon (@johnsimon31) joined the Memphis staff last offseason as Passing Game Coordinator and Wide Receiver Coach, he added a dimension of versatility to the staff after having previously coached running backs at Arizona State and Southern Miss. Apparently that versatility has rubbed off on Memphis' skill players. Against Cincinnati, Tiger WR Antonio Gibson scored the team's first touchdown of the game when he lined up in the backfield and took a handoff before going 65 yards to pay dirt to give Memphis a 10-7 lead. Meanwhile, Memphis RB Kenny Gainwell showed off his receiving prowess, catching three passes for 40 yards on the day. In a back-and-forth affair, Gibson had the first and last word when he caught a six-yard touchdown pass from QB Brady White to put the Tigers up for good at 29-24 with just over a minute to play. With the win, Memphis secured its first AAC title in three attempts and will head to the Cotton Bowl as the highest ranked Group of Five team. Congratulations to Simon on the historic win! 

Miami (OH) captures first title since 2010 after topping Central Michigan in MAC Championship Game
While the MAC Championship was decided on a Saturday as opposed to a Wednesday, the RedHawks and Chippewas combined to put on a show that fully lived up to the MACtion name. Featuring a 97-yard kick return that wasn't a touchdown, a botched fake punt and four lead changes, Miami emerged victorious in the end to claim the conference crown. The RedHawks didn't put up gaudy offensive numbers, but relied heavily on WR Jack Sorenson to carry the load. Sorenson delivered, catching eight passes for 123 yards and one touchdown to lead all receivers. His touchdown came early in the third quarter and gave Miami the lead for good at 17-10. With the win, the RedHawks will head to the LendingTree Bowl with their first conference title and most wins since 2010. Congratulations to WR Coach Israel Woolfork (@IWMiamiFootball) on the win and Sorenson's performance! Woolfork is in his seventh season at Miami and second as receivers coach after working with running backs from 2015-17 and serving as a grad assistant from 2013-14. Woolfork played collegiately at Grand Valley State where he earned all-conference honors and served as team captain. 

Northern Iowa defense keys upset of #7 seed South Dakota State, 13-10
Ranked #6 in the final FCS regular season poll, Northern Iowa entered the playoffs with a chip on its shoulder after it was snubbed for a first round bye in favor of South Dakota State, despite finishing ahead of the Jackrabbits in the Missouri Valley standings. Right or wrong, the reasoning for the South Dakota State's higher seeding was likely its 38-7 win over the Panthers on November 16. After shutting down San Diego, 17-3, in the first round, UNI was ready for another crack at the Jackrabbits. While South Dakota benefited from two drives starting in UNI territory in jumping out to a quick 10-0 first quarter lead, from that point on Jeremiah Johnson's (@Coach_J_Johnson) defense took over. The Panthers didn't allow another point the rest of the way and slowly but surely the offense found its footing. A second quarter field goal from Matthew Cook brought UNI within seven, a third quarter touchdown tied the game, and another Cook field goal with 2:10 left finally put the Panthers over the top. For the game, UNI's defense yielded only 11 first downs and 220 yards while forcing three turnovers. The Panthers have now held six of their last seven opponents to 10 points or fewer. Congratulations and good luck to Johnson and the Panthers, who will face #2 James Madison in the quarterfinals on Friday night in Harrisonburg, VA.

Quick Hits
  • In conference championship games featuring CI coaches on both sidelines, Appalachian State Special Teams Coor. Erik Link (@CoachErikLink), Oregon Special Teams Analyst Chris Norris (@coachnorris38) and Alcorn State Special Teams Coor. Lane Powell (@CoachLanePowell) helped guide their teams to the Sun Belt, PAC-12 and SWAC titles, respectively.
  • Ferris State advanced to the Division II semifinals with a dominant 25-3 win over Northwest Missouri State. Congratulations to Bulldogs Asst. Head Coach/RB Brian Rock (@Coach_Rock)!
  • Congratulations to Kent State Safeties Coach Will Windham (@CoachWindham), Eastern Michigan WR Coach Darren Paige (@WRcoachPaige) and Campbell Defensive Coordinator/LB Weston Glaser (@Coach_Glaser) on their selection to the AFCA's 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute!

CI Coaches in Bowl Games

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl: Utah State (CB Coach Mark Orphey & Passing Game Coor./WR Jason Phillips) vs. Kent State (Safeties Coach Will Windham) - Dec. 20, 7:30 PM
Celebration Bowl: Alcorn State (Special Teams Coor. Lane Powell) vs. North Carolina A&T - Dec. 21, 12:00 PM
Camellia Bowl: FIU (Special Teams Coor. James Vollono) vs. Arkansas State - Dec. 21, 5:30 PM
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: UAB (Defensive Coordinator David Reaves) vs. Appalachian State (Special Teams Coor. Erik Link) - Dec. 21, 9:00 PM
Walk-On's Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech (LB Coach Brian Gamble & DB Coach Jeff Burris) vs. Miami (RB Coach Eric Hickson) - Dec. 26, 4:00 PM
Quick Lane Bowl: Pittsburgh (WR Coach Chris Beatty) vs. Eastern Michigan (OL Coach James Patton & WR Coach Darren Paige) - Dec. 26, 8:00 PM
Military Bowl: North Carolina (Special Teams Coor./OLB Scott Boone) vs. Temple - Dec. 27, 12:00 PM
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Michigan State (OL Coach Jim Bollman & Asst. DB Coach Terrence Samuel) vs. Wake Forest - Dec. 27, 3:20 PM
Cheez-It Bowl: Air Force (WR Coach Ari Confesor) vs. Washington State (OL Coach Mason Miller) - Dec. 27, 10:15 PM
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Memphis (Passing Game Coor./WR John Simon) vs. Penn State - Dec. 28, 12:00 PM
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Mississippi State (DL Coach Deke Adams) vs. Louisville - Dec. 30, 4:00 PM
Capital One Orange Bowl: Florida (TE Coach Larry Scott & CB Coach Torrian Gray) vs. Virginia - Dec. 30, 8:00 PM
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Navy (Defensive Assistant Joe Battaglia) vs. Kansas State - Dec. 31, 3:45 PM
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl: Georgia State (Special Teams Coor./ILB Shiel Wood) vs. Wyoming - Dec. 31, 4:30 PM
Valero Alamo Bowl: Utah (WR Coach Guy Holliday) vs. Texas - Dec. 31, 7:30 PM
Vrbo Citrus Bowl: Alabama (DL Coach Brian Baker) vs. Michigan - Jan. 1, 1:00 PM
Rose Bowl: Oregon (Special Teams Analyst Chris Norris) vs. Wisconsin - Jan. 1, 5:00 PM
TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl: Boston College (DB Coach Eric Lewis) vs. Cincinnati - Jan. 2, 3:00 PM
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Southern Miss (OL Coach Ryan Stanchek) vs. Tulane - Jan. 4, 11:30 AM
LendingTree Bowl: Louisiana (Defensive Coordinator Ron Roberts & Asst. OL Coach Bryant Ross) vs. Miami (OH) (WR Coach Israel Woolfork) - Jan. 6, 7:30 PM 

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