Friday Night Bites: Conference Championships (FAQ)
Sports fans, you have two conference championship games to savor on the eve of the last college football-filled Saturday of the regular season. We're sure you have so many questions.
No. 18 Kent State vs. No. 19 Northern Illinois
• What information do I, the discerning sports fan, require in order to consume this game? The Huskies and Golden Flashes are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. ET at Ford Field in Detroit. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and streamed on WatchESPN.
• What's at stake here? A possible BCS bowl trip, though as ever with teams from non-AQ leagues, the shot is an outside one. Stewart Mandel has the Golden Flashes in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in his latest projections (oh, the ad campaign they'll make for that one) and the Huskies returning to Detroit for the Little Caesars Bowl.
But there's victory in this already, for one side: Wherever Kent State goes, it'll be the program's first bowl game in 40 years.
• For whom are we to be watching? The Golden Flashes have a nasty running threat, particularly in the return game, in Dri Archer and another back, Trayion Durham, who cannot be left unattended. Archer is the nation's top kick return threat, averaging more than 38 yards an attempt. He also leads the MAC in scoring and is the FBS' fifth-ranked all-purpose runner heading into Week 14.
The Huskies have Jordan Lynch, and a bunch of other guys, and not to diminish their efforts at blocking for him or catching his passes, but Jordan Lynch is sort of overshadowing everything else at the moment. Right now, NIU's quarterback is averaging more than 134 rushing yards per game, and he needs to gain just 92 tonight to set a new NCAA record for most rushing yards by a quarterback. Racking up 250 passing yards at Ford Field would also make him the first 3,000-1,500 player in FBS history. Friday MACtion, don't let us down.
• What business did Kent State have losing to Kentucky, and NIU to Iowa? WE DO NOT KNOW.
• Where can I read more about tonight's MAC Championship Game? Full preview can be found here.
No. 17 UCLA at No. 8 Stanford
• What information do I, the discerning sports fan, require in order to consume this game? The Bruins and Cardinal are scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. ET in Palo Alto's Stanford Stadium. The game will be televised on FOX.
• Wait, what? Yes, again. These teams' final regular-season game was last week, and it was against each other. This is a first. Stanford won, 35-7. Ugh. Hey, it's Friday night, there's MACtion on another channel which may bleed into the ether and cause shootouts in the unlikeliest of places, and Gus Johnson has the call. You never know.
• Stanford is a smart kid school that doesn't have Andrew Luck anymore. How did they win a division title? Allow our own Ben Glicksman to explain.
• What's at stake here? Only a Rose Bowl bid. Mandel projects Stanford into the Granddaddy, and the Bruins to the Holiday Bowl.
• For whom are we to be watching? It's remarkable enough for a UCLA quarterback to make it to the end of a season without losing a limb, let alone be good at quarterbacking. Brett Hundley is averaging just shy of 293 yards of offense per game, and when he's not passing, he's handing of to top-10 back Johnathan Franklin.
Franklin will be contending with some very smashy defenders in cardinal and white. Stanford leads the FBS in rushing defense, sacks and tackles for loss. The Cardinal are allowing fewer than 17 points per game heading into tonight. They held Oregon to 14. And see what elite running back Stepfan Taylor can make of a UCLA ground defense that's allowing more than 150 yards per game.
• Why did these Stanford lose to Washington and UCLA lose to Cal, again? To get to the other side? • Where can I read more about tonight's Pac-12 Championship Game? Full preview can be found here.