Illini join Northwestern as a victim of Western Michigan

Illinois Fighting Illini (2004 - 2013)

CHAMPAIGN—Jamauri Bogan ran for 189 yards and two touchdowns to lead Western Michigan to its second win over a Big Ten team this season, 34-10 over Illinois.The 5-7, 187-pound Bogan carried the ball 24 times, battering an Illini defensive line that is considered the strength of the team.The Broncos (3-0) came into the game as three-point favorites just two weeks after beating Northwestern 22-21. Saturday’s game was never that close.Western Michigan opened up a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and finished the afternoon with 437 yards of offense, 287 of it on the ground.While Western Michigan shoved Illinois (1-2) down the field, the Illini could barely sustain a drive. Their only touchdown came on a trick play, a reverse flea flicker that ended with quarterback Wes Lunt hitting tight end Ainslee Johnson deep down the right sideline for a touchdown that cut the Western Michigan lead to 21-7 midway through the second quarter.The two wins over Big Ten teams in a season is a first for Western Michigan, which regularly takes on Big Ten foes. The Broncos are just the fourth Mid-American Conference team with two wins over Big Ten opposition in one season.The Broncos’ win at Northwestern was a squeaker, requiring a late touchdown and some defensive heroics. The win at Illinois was a domination of a Big Ten school by a MAC team on the rise. Western Michigan ran the ball right at Illinois and the Illini couldn’t do much about it. The Bronco defense, meanwhile, stuffed Illinois’ run game.That feel-good period that followed Lovie Smith’s hiring is over and the reality that he has taken over a mistake-prone team short on talent has set it in. Smith said from the beginning he wants to run the ball, but lead back Ke’Shawn Vaughn had just 22 yards on eight carries Saturday. And while Lunt was had 312 yards passing, he lacks a true go-to receiver who can grab balls over the middle or consistently threaten other teams deep.
NOTES—The Broncos are at home Saturday, against Georgia Southern, before they start MAC play at Central Michigan, which has its own win at a Power 5 school (Sept. 10 over Oklahoma State).Illinois gets a week off before heading to Nebraska to open the Big Ten season on Oct. 1. The Cornhuskers provided the 2015 highlight for the Illini, who came from behind to win their meeting in Champaign, 14-13.estern

NIU falls to 0-3 after blow out Home loss to Aztecs.

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DEKALB—Donnel Pumphrey ran for three touchdowns and Christian Chapman threw for three more as San Diego State won its 13th consecutive game, beating Northern Illinois 42-28 on Saturday.Pumphrey – who finished with 220 yards rushing – ran for a 46-yard score on the first play of the Aztecs’ second possession. Chapman followed that with three touchdown throws to give San Diego State (3-0) a 28-7 lead at halftime.After the break, Ryan Graham threw a pair of touchdowns for the Huskies (0-3) to close the gap to 28-21 with 7:46 left in the third.Pumphrey put it away in the fourth with scoring runs of 33 and 79 yards, extending San Diego State’s lead to 42-28 with 7:40 to play.Last week, Pumphrey ran for three touchdowns and a career-high 281 yards in the Aztecs’ 45-40 win over Cal, becoming San Diego State’s all-time rushing leader.Graham threw three touchdown passes for the Huskies.


AFC GAMES: N.ENG over Mia, Balt over CLEVE,HOU over K.City, PITT over Cin, SD over Jax,DEN over Indy
NFC GAMES: NYG over N.Orl, CAR over S.Fran, WASH over Dal, Seat over LA, ARIZ over T.Bay
NFC NORTH GAMES: DET over Tenn, MIN over G.Bay(Sun nite), BEARS over Phil(Mon Nite)

ALL CAPS are Home Teams.
Last week: Les 8-8, Zach 6-10,Tony & Shane each 7-9


Bears blanked in second half, fall to Texans 23-14.

HOUSTON—The huge offseason investment the Houston Texans made in Brock Osweiler paid immediate dividends in the season opener.Osweiler threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in his debut with Houston to lead the Texans and their revamped offense to a 23-14 win over the Bears on Sunday.

”I think he’s everything that we thought he would be,” Texans owner Bob McNair said.
Osweiler, who signed to a $72 million contract from Denver in the offseason, was helped by an offense filled with playmakers.There was nothing about the game that was perfect but we just kept playing … and we made the big plays when we needed to,” Osweiler said.

He completed passes to eight different receivers, led by rookie first-round pick Will Fuller, who became the first player in franchise history to have 100 yards receiving in a debut with 107 and a touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins added 54 yards and a score and running back Lamar Miller had 106 yards rushing in his first game with the Texans.Osweiler’s day started with a hiccup when he threw an interception on the first drive, but soon got going and looked comfortable after that.Houston trailed by 1 point entering the fourth quarter before Osweiler found Fuller on a short pass and he scampered 18 yards for a touchdown to make it 20-14.The Texans added a 38-yard field goal later in the quarter to make it 23-14.Jay Cutler threw for 216 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but was also sacked five times and hurried several others on a day when linebackers Whitney Mercilus and 2014 top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney led the pass rush.

”Those struggles occurred a little bit more in the second half when we had to play backyard football where we had to throw it to catch up,” John Fox said. ”They’re a talented front and when you get too one-dimensional like that, it becomes problematic for everyone.”

J.J. Watt didn’t seem to be limited in his return after sitting out all of the preseason after back surgery. But last year’s Defensive Player of the Year wasn’t as effective as he normally is, and seemed to have a tough time dealing with three-time Pro Bowl left guard Josh Sitton.The Bears have a Monday night matchup with the Eagles on Sept. 19.Texans: Houston hosts Kansas City next Sunday, looking for a win to erase the memory of last season’s 30-0 Wild-Card loss to the Chiefs.Houston middle linebacker Brian Cushing, who had 110 tackles last season, injured his knee in the first quarter and did not return. Cushing started every game last season and 14 in 2014 after playing just 12 games combined in the previous two seasons because of two significant injuries to his left knee. Coach Bill O’Brien didn’t specify exactly what the injury was after the game, but said he would miss some time and they’d have more details on Monday.

NOTES—The Bears are 0-4 lifetime against the Texans, who entered the NFL in 2002…..Cutler was sacked 5 times…The Bears home opened is a week from Monday night against Philadelphia at Soldier Field.

ISU stuns NU 9-7 on last second Field Goal

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

EVANSTON—Although it appeared his missed extra point might prove to be the difference, Sean Slattery said his thoughts never turned negative.

”Coach told me at halftime, `You’re gonna hit a big one,”’ Slattery said. ”That gave me some confidence. You just have to believe in yourself and get it done.”

Slattery connected on a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give Illinois State a 9-7 upset of Northwestern on Saturday.Jake Kolbe completed 30 of his 41 passes for 287 yards and two interceptions, Anthony Warrum had nine receptions for 116 yards and George Moreira had 57 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown for Illinois State (2-0).

‘We feel like we belong playing teams like this,” Kolbe said. ”We stressed all week we’re good enough to play with teams like that.”

Clayton Thorson was 17 of 41 for 191 yards for NU, which fell to 0-2.Justin Jackson had 39 yards on 11 carries for the Wildcats before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.Thorson connected with Austin Carr on a 10-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-down play early in the fourth quarter that gave the Wildcats a 7-6 edge with 9:04 remaining. That appeared to be the winning score before Kolbe led the Redbirds on an 11-play, 77-yard drive in the final 3:11 for the winning score.

”We knew that today was going to be a battle,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. ”Did I think it was going to be this type of battle from a standpoint of scoring? Quite frankly, no. I thought we’d be able to move the ball better on the ground. I thought, obviously, we’d be able to pitch and catch better, so you’ve got to credit ISU’s defense. They did a great job up front.

Slattery missed the extra point following Moreira’s 6-yard touchdown run just before halftime and missed a 49-yard attempt in the first quarter.

”Even when they went up 7-6, I always felt like we were gonna come back and win the game,” ISU coach Brock Spack said.

The Redbirds suffered a 37-3 loss in their previous visit to Ryan Field in 2010. That was coach Brock Spack’s second season and Saturday’s result shows how far the program has come since then. With Kolbe and Warrum leading a high-powered offensive attack, the Redbirds should again be one of the better teams in FCS.The struggles against Western Michigan in the opener weren’t an aberration. Once again, the offense could not find any consistency and Jackson could not bail them out because the Illinois State defense was keying on him. Thorson cannot seem to get on the same page with his receivers and completions over 10 yards were rare. Defensively, the Wildcats struggled to get off the field and continue to get pushed around in short-yardage situations.

Irish outclass Nevada to even record at 1-1.

SOUTH BEND—Notre Dame’s defense got going after stuffing Nevada on a fourth-and-1 from the 17 on Nevada’s first possession. The offense didn’t get going until the second quarter.Nevada (1-1) was no match for the 18th-ranked Fighting Irish once they got both sides going, overpowering the Wolf Pack 39-10 on Saturday. DeShone Kizer threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, Josh Adams rushed for 106 yards on 10 carries and Notre Dame’s defense rebounded from a disappointing performance a week ago at Texas.Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was pleased with the defensive effort.
”We needed some confidence, so that fourth down was definitely a confidence-builder for our defense. I think that gave us some momentum going into the next couple of drives,” he said.

Linebacker James Onwualu said it was a stop the Irish (1-1) desperately needed.

”We never had a drive where the defense had any momentum in the Texas game,” he said.

Defensive lineman Jarron Jones also set up a touchdown with an interception at the 8-yard line.Kizer was 15 of 18 for 156 yards with one interception and Equanimeous St. Brown led Irish receivers with six catches for 85 yards with Torii Hunter Jr. out with a concussion sustained against Texas.Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Kizer showed more patience looking for receivers.

”The other thing is he’s taking what’s available to him instead of trying to do too much,” Kelly said.

Nevada coach Brian Polian, a former Notre Dame assistant under Charlie Weis, said he had no doubt about going for it on fourth down.

”Because field goals were not going to keep us in this game,” he said.

The Wolf Pack avoided the shutout when Wyatt Demps caught a 44-yard pass from Stewart in the third quarter to set up a 27-yard field goal by Brent Zuzo. Jaxson Kincaide added a 6-yard TD run against Notre Dame’s reserves late in the fourth quarter. Stewart was 10 of 23 passing for 113 yards and James Butler, who rushed for 1,342 yards last season, was held to 50 yards on 17 carries.

Illini fall to N.Carolina after good start.

Illinois Fighting Illini (2004 - 2013)

CHAMPAIGN—Nursing an eight-point lead with just over 12 minutes left Saturday, North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky heaved the ball deep toward Ryan Switzer but instead connected with the back of an Illinois defensive back.No problem, as it turned out. The ball bounced high and came down in the hands of Tar Heel tight end Jake Bargas for a first down that set up a touchdown that gave North Carolina a 38-23 lead.Sometimes, it’s just your night, and Saturday was Trubisky’s.The junior quarterback threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more scores Saturday to lead the Tar Heels to a 48-23 win at Illinois.

”We took what the defense gave us,” Trubisky said. ”We were just rolling; whoever was open was making plays. Our o-line did a good job all night. We just kept attacking the areas they were giving us on the field.”

Trubisky was coming off a workmanlike performance a week earlier against Georgia that wasn’t enough to deliver a win.On Saturday, he was 19-24 passing and didn’t throw an interception. And he carried the ball nine times for 42 yards.

”He played well tonight, he took care of the football,” North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. ”He ran the ball effectively and I thought he was into it, sharp, focused and tough and that’s what I expect from him.”

Early on, Trubisky had to lead the Tar Heels (1-1) from behind.Illinois (1-1) went up 7-0 on the opening drive on a 65-yard Ke’Shawn VAugh touchdown run while North Carolina’s offense started slow.Trubisky jump-started the attack, rushing for two short touchdowns by the end of the first quarter and giving UNC a 17-14 lead it never gave up.The Tar Heels held Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt to 127 yards and two touchdowns on 17-35 passing.Illinois also struggled with penalties. They were flagged 13 times for 99 yards.First-year Illinois coach Lovie Smith called the game a learning experience for his team, but had no explanation for the penalties.

”If you have a penalty, how do you explain it? Don’t do it,” he said. ”Sometimes you have to see what they do to your team. Winning teams don’t do it.”

A year ago North Carolina easily handled Illinois at home, winning 48-14 and beginning a run that took the Tar Heels to the ACC title game and a bowl game.

NIU smoked by S.Florida in Tampa.

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TAMPA—Quinton Flowers threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns to lead South Florida to a 48-17 rout of Northern Illinois on Saturday night.With two-time American Athletic Conference rushing leader Marlon Mack sitting out after spending the past week in the concussion protocol, Flowers accounted for 403 of his team’s 658 yards total offense while tossing TD passes of 73 yards to Ryeshene Bronson, 26 yards to Rodney Adams, 13 yards to D’Ernest Johnson and 6 yards to Chris Barr.The dual-threat quarterback also rushed for 53 yards on 11 carries, helping the Bulls (2-0) – preseason favorites to win the American’s East Division – remain unbeaten through two games for the first time in four seasons under coach Willie Taggart.

”2-0! It’s been awhile,” Taggart, 14-23 in his first three seasons with the Bulls, said. ”Climbing is easier than hanging on.”

NIU quarterback Drew Hare was carted off the field with an apparent left leg injury midway through the third quarter. The redshirt senior missed the last five games of 2015 with a right Achilles injury.Backup Ryan Graham threw an 11-yard TD pass to Aregeros Turner, who also scored on a 4 run for the Huskies, who lost their season opener at Wyoming 40-34 in triple overtime.The Huskies have played in six straight Mid-American Conference championships games and also appeared in a league-record eight consecutive bowl games, which is to say the most important part of their season is still ahead of them. The 0-2 start will mean little if NIU can rebound – especially defensively – to make another strong run in conference play.


AFC GAMES: BALT over Buff, Cin over NYJ, KC over S.Diego
NFC GAMES: ATL over T.Bay, NY Giants iver DAL
INT GAMES: PHIL over Clev, N.ORL over Oak, SEAT over Mia,
NFC NORTH GAMES: INDY over Det, TENN over Minn,  G.Bay over JAX, HOU over Bears
ALL CAPS are Home Teams.


Bears cut Robbie Gould, sign former Packer Josh Sitton, Ravens sign Devin Hester

For the first time in forever, field goals at Soldier Field will no longer be as good as Gould. As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and then confirmed by the team, the Bears cut kicker Robbie Gould on Sunday night. In doing so, the Bears freed up $3 million in cap space. They also just parted ways with their all-time leader in points scored and their longest-tenured player — a distinction quarterback Jay Cutler now owns. In Gould’s career, which began with the Bears in 2005, he appeared in 166 games, connecting on 85.4 percent of his field goals and 99 percent of his extra points. His 1,207 points scored top the Bears’ all-time leaderboard. Until Sunday, he was the only surviving member of the 2006 Lovie Smith-coached team that journeyed to the Super Bowl. He was — is — one of the greatest kickers of all-time, ranking ninth in career field-goal percentage.For more than a decade, Gould drilled big-time kicks and served as a leader within the locker room. In December 2014, when the season under Marc Trestman nosedived deep into the depths of Lake Michigan and Trestman responded by benching Cutler for Jimmy Clausen, it was Gould who publicly defended Cutler. Before the Bears even fired Trestman, it was Gould who accused his coach of scapegoating his quarterback. Also. the Bears got through final cuts Saturday and then got busy making their roster better for 2016 and beyond.

Jay Cutler should have a smile on his face when the team practices Monday in preparation for Sunday’s opener against the Texans in Houston as the Bears signed three-time Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton to a three-year contract worth roughly $21 million, according to sources.The Bears moved quickly to sign Sitton, bringing him to Halas Hall for a visit on Sunday after he was a surprise final cut of the rival Packers on Saturday. With the Bears expected to announce a four-year extension for right guard Kyle Long any day, that’s some stalwart protection for the quarterback even though the Bears will have to scramble to set a new line this week.Sitton, 30, has intimate knowledge of the NFC North, especially the Packers, and it makes sense for him to take over at left guard immediately. The Bears could then choose between veteran Ted Larsen, who has been better at center than guard, and second-round draft pick Cody Whitehair at center. Whitehair has been working at left guard in the preseason, but he took 10 snaps at center in the first exhibition game and there was some thinking in the building after he was drafted that Whitehair’s future would be brightest at center

Former Bear Devin Hester will be given another chance to be ridiculous. The NFL’s greatest return man of all time is reportedly signing a contract with the Ravens.Hester, 33, owns the NFL record for return touchdowns (20) and punt-return touchdowns (14). He spent the first eight years of his career with the Bears, before signing with the Falcons for the 2014 season. Due to a toe injury, he appeared in just five games last year. The Falcons then released him following the season.As a receiver, Hester’s caught 255 passes for 3,311 yards and 16 touchdowns. At one point in his career, he even served as Jay Cutler‘s No. 1 receiver, at least in terms of the depth chart.