MICHIGAN STATE TELLS FOOTBALL COACH MEL TUCKER IT WILL FIRE HIM FOR MISCONDUCT WITH RAPE SURVIVOR
(AP) — Michigan State informed suspended football coach Mel Tucker on Monday that he will be fired without compensation for misconduct involving activist and rape survivor Brenda Tracy in a sordid case that dates back more than a year.
“The notice provides Tucker with seven calendar days to respond and present reasons to me and the interim president as to why he should not be terminated for cause,” athletic director Alan Haller said in a statement released by the school.
If Tucker does not present “sufficient reasons to dispute” multiple contract violations, the school will fire him Sept. 26, three days after the program’s Big Ten opener in what was hoped to be a bounce-back year for the Spartans.
Tucker is in the third year of a $95 million, 10-year contract and if he is fired for cause, the school would not have to pay him what’s remaining on his deal. Tucker, his agent and his attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Haller said the decision does not affect the ongoing investigation into Tracy’s allegations of sexual harassment, which is being handled by the school’s office for civil rights.
Tracy said Tucker sexually harassed her during a phone call in April 2022. Several months later, Tracy filed a complaint with the school’s Title IX office and the investigation was completed in July. A hearing is scheduled for the week of Oct. 5 to determine if Tucker violated the school’s sexual harassment and exploitation policy and a ruling could take up to 60 days.
Tracy’s allegations were made public by USA Today earlier this month. The 51-year-old Tucker, who said he is estranged from his wife and has two children, said the allegations against him are “completely false.” Tucker insisted that the intimate phone call he had with Tracy was consensual and outside the scope of both Title IX and school policy.
The school, however, said the actions Tucker acknowledged were unprofessional and unethical. It told Tucker he is being fired for “breaches” in his contract and for engaging “in any conduct which constitutes moral turpitude or which, in the university’s sole judgement, would tend to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule upon the university.”
Tracy is known for her work with college teams educating athletes about sexual violence. Michigan State paid her $10,000 to share her story with the football team.
The Spartans (2-1) were routed 41-7 by No. 8 Washington on Saturday in Harlon Barnett’s debut as interim coach. Michigan State hosts Maryland (3-0) on Saturday.
Tucker began his coaching career with Nick Saban as a graduate assistant for the Spartans in 1997. .He returned to the school with one of the biggest contracts in college sports after leading Colorado for one season and serving as an assistant coach at Georgia, Alabama and Ohio State.
Tucker also worked in the NFL, leading the Jacksonville Jaguars as interim coach during the 2011 season.
SEC SUSPENDS FLORIDA’S GEORGE, MAZZCCUA AND ZANDERS ALONG WITH TENNESSEE’S NORMAN-LOTT FOR FIGHT
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Southeastern Conference suspended three Florida players and one Tennessee player for their roles in a fight that started on what was supposed to be the last play of their game Saturday night.
The half-game punishments were doled out Monday after video review and consultation between the league office and both universities.
No. 25 Florida will be without right tackle Damieon George, guard Micah Mazzccua and tight end Dante Zanders on Saturday for the first half against Charlotte in Gainesville. Defensive lineman Omarr Norman-Lott will miss the first half of No. 23 Tennessee’s game against UTSA on Saturday in Knoxville.
The fight started when Florida quarterback Graham Mertz was slow to take a knee on a fourth-and-16 play with 9 seconds remaining in the Gators’ 29-16 victory in the Swamp. Tennessee defensive lineman Omari Thomas bumped into Mertz as he finally took a knee, and Florida left tackle Austin Barber took exception.
Benches cleared, and Tennessee defensive back Kamal Hadden and Florida’s Mazzccua squared off like boxers. Mazzccua eventually threw a punch that missed.
George was initially flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and Thomas for targeting. But neither flag was enforced. Officials forced the teams to return to the field to play one more down.
Replays showed George shoving Thomas and then landing a punch that knocked off Norman-Lott’s helmet. Norman-Lott had previously swung at Barber.
“We got staff members that probably need to be disciplined as well,” Florida coach Billy Napier said Monday before the discipline was announced. “Ultimately, that’s a teachable moment. It’s an opportunity for us to talk about composure and poise, ego, temper.”
Even after coaches and officials separated the teams, Florida center Kingsley Eguakun could be seen going after his staff members who broke up the skirmish.
“We had multiple players that screwed up,” Napier said. “They compromised the entire team ‘cause you may not be available in the future, whatever the case may be. No different than some guy calls you a name at the local bar on Friday night. Are you going to compromise your wife and kids, make a poor decision?
“These things are teachable moments. Ultimately hopefully we do enough on our part to teach them.”
NEBRASKA LOSES RUNNING BACKS GABE ERVIN JR. AND RAHMIR JOHNSON TO SEASON-ENDING INJURIES
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lost top running backs Gabe Ervin Jr. and Rahmir Johnson to season-ending injuries, coach Matt Rhule announced Monday.
Ervin dislocated his shoulder and Johnson dislocated his hip in the Cornhuskers’ 35-11 win over Northern Illinois on Saturday. Both will require surgery.
Ervin started the first two games for the Huskers (1-2) and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. He leads the team with 38 attempts and 196 yards, and he’s caught two passes for 20 yards.
Johnson, who started against Northern Illinois, has had 12 carries for 65 yards, including a 44-yard burst.
Anthony Grant will move to the top of the depth chart for Saturday’s home game against Louisiana Tech (2-2) and will be backed up by Emmett Johnson and Kwinten Ives.
Grant had been the projected starter entering the season but has been limited to a backup role. He didn’t play against No. 18 Colorado on Sept. 9 after a critical fumble in the 13-10 season-opening loss at Minnesota.
Grant led the Huskers last season with 915 yards and six touchdowns on 218 carries, the most attempts by a Nebraska player since 2014. Grant also caught 18 passes for 104 yards.
Rhule also announced that backup cornerback Dwight Bootle II would miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
SABAN: MILROE ‘EARNED THE OPPORTUNITY’ TO BE ALABAMA QB1 VS. OLE MISS
Alabama will start quarterback Jalen Milroe on Saturday against Ole Miss, head coach Nick Saban announced.
Milroe began the season as QB1 but lost the role after struggling in a loss to Texas in the second game of the campaign. The Crimson Tide started Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner on Saturday at South Florida, but he was benched and replaced by Ty Simpson midway through the contest. Alabama edged South Florida 17-3 despite its offensive struggles.
“Jalen really showed the leadership that I was looking for during the game in terms of supporting his teammates and doing the things he needed to do,” Saban said Monday, according to Paul Finebaum of SEC Network. “He’s had the opportunity to play, so have the other guys. Jalen played the best of all those guys, so I think he’s earned the opportunity to be the quarterback.”
Milroe completed 72% of his passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against Middle Tennessee State. He also rushed for 48 yards and two scores. But Milroe couldn’t replicate those numbers versus Texas, finishing the game with a 51.9% completion rate while passing for 255 yards and two TDs against two interceptions.
Buchner was 5-for-14 passing with 34 yards in the Texas matchup. Simpson completed 5 of 9 passes for 73 yards after taking over with the game underway. He also scored a rushing touchdown.
Following the unimpressive victory over South Florida, Alabama ranked at No. 13 in the AP Poll, marking the team’s first time outside the top 10 since 2015.
The Crimson Tide begin SEC play against Ole Miss on Saturday before facing Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
KIRBY SMART, NO. 1 GEORGIA ‘NOT PANICKING’
No. 1 Georgia pocketed its first conference win of the season without many style points.
Good enough to win, the Bulldogs outlasted a keep-away approach from South Carolina to notch a 24-14 victory and extend its winning streak to 20 games.
But the message from head coach Kirby Smart to players was blunt: good enough to win isn’t good enough.
“I’m not panicking in any sort of way,” Smart said Monday. “South Carolina is a good team. I’m very happy with where we are. You learn more about the truth, too. The truth is this is who we are, a 3-0 team who won three imperfect games. I’m still looking for the perfect one.”
Some September stress was expected for Smart and Georgia transitioning from offensive coordinator Todd Monken to Mike Bobo, and readying Carson Beck — who replaced two-time national champion quarterback Stetson Bennett — for the rigors of the SEC.
“Carson has done a good job. He makes good decisions with the ball,” Smart said, noting he’d like to see Beck step up in the pocket in the face of pressure. “Very pleased with what he’s done. We’ve got to get better results.”
“We challenge him with different things. What I’ve been most proud of is his composure, which I never doubted,” Smart said Monday. “He handles positive and negative almost the same.”
One of the strains for the Bulldogs has been injuries. Remarkably healthy the past two seasons, Smart said the current injury list is longer than it has been in his tenure.
“That becomes a hurdle,” Smart said.
Right tackle Amarius Mims will be sidelined by an ankle injury that requires tightrope surgery, Smart said. He’s expected to return this season.
Freshman running back Roderick Robinson (high ankle sprain) and wide receiver Ladd McConkey (back) are among other injuries of note. McConkey will not play this week, Smart said.
To get right, Georgia has to resolve red-zone woes. The Bulldogs ranked among the best in the country in red zone defense the past two seasons. Collecting yards isn’t the problem, but scoring points has been.
“You have to be able to run the ball in the red area and you have to be able to stop the run. We’ve got to have positive plays both ways,” Smart said.
The Bulldogs are 25th in total offense, averaging 467.7 yards per game.
Georgia has 13 offensive touchdowns, but 37 FBS teams have more. Notre Dame leads the country with 24. Auburn (15), which hosts the Bulldogs in two weeks, and Georgia State each have 15.
Georgia plays a fourth consecutive home game Saturday when UAB visits in the final tuneup before the Bulldogs flip to all SEC programming the rest of the regular season. After the Blazers swing by, Georgia plays three of its next four games on the road.
“I haven’t even thought about Tennessee and Ole Miss, and I haven’t even thought about traveling,” Smart said. “I’m worried about UAB.”
COLORADO 2-WAY STANDOUT TRAVIS HUNTER OUT 3 WEEKS
Colorado two-way standout Travis Hunter is going to miss three weeks after a late hit knocked him out of Saturday’s game and sent him to the hospital for evaluation.
Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders on Monday did not announce the exact injury Hunter suffered, but Fox Sports reported it’s a lacerated liver.
Two of Colorado’s next three games are at No. 10 Oregon and at home vs. No. 5 Southern California. The Buffaloes (3-0) are ranked No. 19.
Hunter took a massive shot to his midsection from Colorado State safety Henry Blackburn with 4:53 left in the first quarter of Saturday’s 43-35 win in two overtimes.
Hunter, who stars at both cornerback and wide receiver for Colorado, was running a go route down the left sideline when quarterback Shedeur Sanders’ pass landed out of Hunter’s reach. As Hunter let up with the ball falling to the ground, Blackburn delivered the hit.
Blackburn was flagged for a personal foul on the play. Pass interference was also called.
Hunter later returned to the contest. He had two receptions for 21 yards, losing a fumble on one of them that Colorado State’s Ron Hardge III returned 45 yards for a touchdown. On defense, the cornerback made two tackles.
Hunter played more than 100 snaps in each of Colorado’s first two games.
REPORT: FAU QB CASEY THOMPSON TORE ACL
Florida Atlantic starting quarterback Casey Thompson tore his ACL during Saturday’s game and is done for the season, ESPN reported Monday.
Thompson took a hard hit in the second quarter of the Owls’ 48-14 loss at Clemson on Saturday, leaving the game after spending several minutes on the turf. He did not return. He had thrown two interceptions to that point.
He was replaced by Daniel Richardson, who threw for 120 yards and a pick the rest of the way.
Thompson, a sixth-year player, was in his first season at FAU after stops at Texas (2019-21) and Nebraska (2022).
He’s thrown for 5,338 career yards and 52 touchdowns against 24 interceptions.
DUAL-THREAT QB DEUCE KNIGHT COMMITS TO NOTRE DAME
Dual-threat quarterback Deuce Knight committed to Notre Dame’s 2025 recruiting class on Monday.
The 6-foot-5 prospect from Lucedale, Miss., is ranked as the No. 5 quarterback and No. 70 overall player in the class by the 247Sports Composite.
Knight chose the Fighting Irish over offers from Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Auburn and many others.
“Think Big Go Irish,” he posted on social media.
Knight is the second 247 Sports four-star recruit from the 2025 class to commit to Notre Dame, joining Tampa, Fla., running back Justin Thurman.
BIG TEN FOOTBALL
SUSPENSION OVER, JIM HARBAUGH RETURNS TO MICHIGAN SIDELINE
A merry-go round of Michigan assistant coaches step aside this week with head coach Jim Harbaugh reinstated from the university-imposed suspension to start the 2023 season.
The No. 2-ranked Wolverines (3-0) open Big Ten play Saturday in Ann Arbor against Rutgers with Harbaugh on the sideline and calling offensive plays, which should ease some of the communication and substitution errors that muddied spots in their first three games.
“I’m super excited to have coach Harbaugh back. You best believe he’s fired up, too,” running back Blake Corum said. “It’s going to be exciting going back down the tunnel with Coach Harbaugh, having him on the sidelines. I’m amped up. I’m fired up. … It’s going to mean something to have Coach Harbaugh back on the sidelines.”
Harbaugh said the absence “made me a better coach,” but he said there are new guardrails in place to prevent him from being suspended again. The NCAA could still levy punishment for alleged recruiting violations and what their investigators called “misleading” responses from Harbaugh.
In his absence,
In his absence, four different assistant coaches assumed head-coaching responsibilities: defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, special teams coach Jay Harbaugh and running backs coach Mike Hart.
Harbaugh returns on the heels of quarterback J.J. McCarthy throwing three interceptions in the Wolverines’ 31-6 victory over Bowling Green.
“It’s when you don’t have the right foot discipline, eye discipline, or footwork and then the bad things happen,” Harbaugh said. “Now it’s seared into your brain. You learn more from the mistakes. I think the same as it was in coaching, it is in playing.”
WEEK 4 FOOTBALL RELEASE
• Week 4 of the 2023 Big Ten season features nine games, highlighted by five conference matchups. Purdue will host divisional foe Wisconsin on Friday, while Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Penn State welcome Rutgers, Maryland, Minnesota and Iowa, respectively. The complete schedule appears to the right.
• Four Big Ten teams appear in the AP Poll this week. Michigan leads the conference at No. 2, followed by No. 6 Ohio State, No. 7 Penn State and No. 24 Iowa. Maryland and Wisconsin are both receiving votes.
• Six Big Ten teams remain undefeated on the season, as Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers are all 3-0.
• Ohio State and Penn State currently rank among the top 20 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense. The Buckeyes rank second nationally in scoring defense, allowing an average of 6.7 points per game, while ranking No. 20 in scoring offense (40.3 points per game). The Nittany Lions rank No. 13 nationally in scoring defense (11.7 points per game), while ranking 14th in scoring offense (43.7 points per game).
• Four additional Big Ten teams rank in the top 25 in terms of scoring defense: Michigan (1st, 5.3 points per game), Rutgers (7th, 10.0 points per game), Iowa (18th, 12.3 points per game) and Maryland (21st, 13.3 points per game).
• The Nittany Lions are set to hold their 15th full-stadium Penn State White Out on Saturday against Iowa. The tradition stretches back to a student section White Out in 2004. Penn State’s first full-stadium White Out was against Notre Dame in 2007. Penn State meets Iowa for the 32nd time in the series. Penn State holds a 17-14 advantage in the series. However, the teams are tied 11-11 as Big Ten foes.
• Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. hauled in the 100th reception of his career in Saturday’s 63-10 victory against Western Kentucky. He entered the game with 97 career catches and finished with five catches for 126 yards and one touchdown. His 75-yard touchdown reception was the longest of his career, surpassing a 71-yard catch against Youngstown State last week. Additionally, junior running back TreVeyon Henderson became the 28th Buckeye to join the Ohio State career 2,000-yard rushing club after rushing for 88 on Saturday.
• Wisconsin’s Hunter Wohler led the Badgers defensively last weekend, picking off two passes in a 35-14 win over Georgia Southern. The junior made a team-high 10 tackles, including a sack, to become the first Badger to pick off two passes in a game since John Torchio vs. Purdue on Oct. 22, 2022. Wohler is just the second player in the country and first in the Big Ten this season to record two interceptions and a sack in the same game.
• Michigan is building on an 18-game home winning streak dating back to 2021. It is the longest home winning streak under Harbaugh and the program’s best since a 21-game streak from 1998-2001 under coach Lloyd Carr. This weekend against Rutgers, the Wolverines have a chance to build on a 14-game Big Ten win streak, the program’s longest since a 16-game conference streak spanning 1996-98.
• Rutgers running back Kyle Monangai rushed for 143 yards and a career-high three touchdowns on 16 carries (8.9 yards per carry) in the Scarlet Knights’ 35-16 win against Virginia Tech, marking the first time a Scarlet Knight topped 100 rushing yards in consecutive games since 2016. The junior ripped off a 55-yard touchdown in a one-score game in the fourth quarter, his longest career carry and longest by a Scarlet Knight since 2020.
• The 2023 campaign will feature 99 All-Big Ten honorees (first-, second-, third-team or honorable mention) selected by either the coaches or the media last season, with Ohio State leading the way with 16 all-conference returnees. The East Division welcomes back 56 all-conference players, while the West returns 43. Illinois is the only West team with double-digit all-conference returnees with 10, while each team has at least one All-Big Ten performer returning.
• The Big Ten finished last season with three teams ranked in the AP Top 25, tying for the third-most of any conference. All three teams finished in the Top 10, marking the second straight year that the conference had three top 10 teams at the end of the season. The 2023 AP Preseason Poll also featured five Big Ten teams in No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 7 Penn State, No. 19 Wisconsin, and No. 25 Iowa, while Illinois and Minnesota are both receiving votes.
• Last season, the Big Ten posted the fifth-highest single-season attendance total in conference history with 6,333,196 fans attending home games. Excluding 2020, this marked the ninth consecutive season and 10th time in 11 seasons that more than six million fans have attended Big Ten home football games.
• This season’s Playoff Semifinals will take place Monday, January 1, 2024, at the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl. Houston will host the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, January 8, 2024, at NRG Stadium. The College Football Playoff matches the No. 1 ranked team vs. No. 4, and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in semifinal games that rotate annually among six bowl games – the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, Vrbo Fiesta Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl, Allstate Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl Game.
|Friday, September 22, 2023 Football|
|Wisconsin||Purdue||7:00 P.M.||West Lafayette, IN (Conf.)||TV: FS1 Stats Radio: WAZY (96.5 FM) Video|
|Saturday, September 23, 2023 Football|
|Maryland||Michigan State||3:30 P.M.||East Lansing, MI (Conf.)||TV: NBC Stats Radio: Spartan Media Network Audio|
|Ohio State||Notre Dame||7:30 P.M.||South Bend, Ind.|
|Louisiana Tech||Nebraska||3:30 P.M.||Lincoln, Neb.|
|Rutgers||Michigan||12:00 P.M.||Ann Arbor, Mich. (Conf.)||TV: Big Ten Network Stats Radio: WFAN 101.9-FM, FOX Sports New Jersey 93.5-FM/1450-AM, SiriusXM 158 or 196, SXM app, Audacy app, Scarlet Knights app Video|
|Florida Atlantic||Illinois||3:30 P.M.||Champaign, Ill.||TV: Big Ten Network Stats|
|Akron||Indiana||7:30 P.M.||Bloomington, Ind.||TV: BTN Stats Radio: Indiana Sports Radio Network|
|Iowa||Penn State||7:30 P.M.||University Park, Pa. (Conf.)||TV: CBS Stats Radio: Penn State Sports Network|
|Minnesota||Northwestern||7:30 P.M.||Evanston, IL (Conf.)||TV: BTN Stats Radio: WGN Radio 720 Video|
MARYLAND, MINNESOTA, RUTGERS AND WISCONSIN EARN WEEKLY FOOTBALL HONORS
Offensive Player of the Week
Kyle Monangai, Rutgers
RB – Jr. – Roseland, N.J. – Don Bosco Prep
- Rushed for 143 yards and a career-high three touchdowns on 16 carries (8.9 yards per carry) in the Scarlet Knights’ 35-16 win against Virginia Tech, marking the first time a Scarlet Knight topped 100 rushing yards in consecutive games since 2016
- Ripped off a 55-yard touchdown in a one-score game in the fourth quarter, his longest career carry and longest by a Scarlet Knight since 2020
- The three rushing scores were the most by a Rutgers player in a game since 2019 and his 357 yards this season leads the Big Ten through three weeks
- The two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree earns his first career Offensive Player of the Week award
- Last Rutgers Offensive Player of the Week: Gary Nova (Dec. 1, 2014)
Defensive Player of the Week
Hunter Wohler, Wisconsin
S – Jr. – Muskego, Wis. – Muskego
- Picked off two passes in Wisconsin’s 35-14 win over Georgia Southern and made a team-high 10 tackles, including a sack, to become the first Badger to pick off two passes in a game since John Torchio vs. Purdue on Oct. 22, 2022
- Recorded 10 tackles to improve his streak of 10+ tackles per game to three straight games, becoming the first Badger to do so since Leo Chenal in 2021
- Just the second player in the country and first in the Big Ten this season to record two interceptions and a sack in the same game
- The Academic All-Big Ten honoree earns the first Defensive Player of the Week accolade of his career
- Last Wisconsin Defensive Player of the Week: John Torchio (Oct. 24, 2022)
Special Teams Player of the Week
Braedan Wisloski, Maryland
WR – Fr. – Elysburg, Pa. – Southern Columbia Area
- Jumpstarted Maryland to scoring 42 consecutive points by taking a kickoff return 98 yards for a touchdown in Maryland’s win over Virginia
- It was Wisloski’s first career touchdown and it marked the first time a Terp returned a kickoff for a touchdown since Javon Leake had a 97-yard score against Michigan on Nov. 2, 2019
- Marked the longest kickoff return for a Maryland player since Leake equaled a school record with a 100-yard return at Rutgers on Oct. 5, 2019
- Garners the first Special Teams Player of the Week honor of his career
- Last Maryland Special Teams Player of the Week: Chad Ryland (Nov. 28, 2022)
Freshman of the Week
Darius Taylor, Minnesota
RB – Detroit, Mich. – Walled Lake Western
- Made his first career start at running back for the Gophers at North Carolina, finishing the game with 22 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown, while adding a 25-yard reception
- After running for 193 yards last week against Eastern Michigan, Taylor became the first Gopher true freshman to run for 100+ yards in consecutive weeks since Laurence Maroney did so in November of 2003
- His two-yard touchdown run with 0:30 left in the first half at North Carolina was his second in as many games
- Earns the second Freshman of the Week honor of his career
- Last Minnesota Freshman of the Week: Darius Taylor (Sept. 11, 2023)
MAC ANNOUNCES WEEK 3 FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
MAC Football East Division Offensive Player of the Week
Brett Gabbert, Miami, QB
R-Jr., St. Louis, Mo. (Christian Brothers)
Brett Gabbert completed 12 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for a career-best 75 yards in a 31-24 overtime win versus Cincinnati. Gabbert and the RedHawks captured the program’s first win over a Big-12 program and helped reclaim the Victory Bell for the first time since 2005.
MAC Football East Division Defensive Co-Players of the Week
Matt Salopek, Miami, LB
R-Jr., Kent, Ohio (Archbishop Hoban)
Matt Salopek recorded a career-high 18 tackles in Miami’s 31-24 overtime win at Cincinnati last Saturday. Salopek and the RedHawk defense allowed eight red zone trips, but surrendered just 23 points as Miami picked up the program’s first win over a Big-12 school.
Bryce Houston, Ohio, LB
Grad, Lewis Center, Ohio
Houston continued his strong 2023 season, leading the defense as they held the Iowa State Cyclones to seven points in the Bobcats’ 10-7 victory over the Power 5 school on Saturday (Sept. 16). The linebacker finished the game with a team-best 15 tackles, matching his career record that he set against Buffalo in 2021. Of his 15 tackles, Houston recorded five solo stops.
MAC Football East Division Special Teams Player of the Week
Alec Bevelhimer, Miami, P
Jr., Indianapolis, Ind.
Alec Bevelhimer averaged 52.0 yards on four punts in Miami’s 31-24 overtime win over Cincinnati. He had two punts travel 60-plus yards, including a career-best 63 yarder. He downed three kicks inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and allowed no return yards in Miami’s first win over a Big-12 program.
MAC Football West Division Offensive Player of the Week
Peny Boone, Toledo, RB
Jr., Detroit, Mich. (King)
Peny Boone rushed for a career-high 123 rushing yards with 97 coming in the second half of Toledo’s come-from-behind 21-17 victory over San Jose State. He also caught two passes for 19 yards.
MAC Football West Division Defensive Player of the Week
Bennett Walker, Eastern Michigan, DB
JR, San Diego, Calif. (Patrick Henry)
Bennett Walker showed out for the Eastern Michigan defense in Saturday’s 19-17 win over UMass, recording two interceptions as EMU forced four turnovers for the first time since 2019. Walker’s first interception came when UMass was at the EMU 42 as he picked a deep pass down the right sideline just four yards outside of the endzone. Walker’s second interception came in the end zone to help the Eagles retain a 13-10 lead with 7:13 to go in the fourth quarter as UMass was on the verge of tying or taking the lead. Walker is the first Eagle to record two interceptions in a game since Brody Hoying at Northern Illinois, Nov. 19, 2019, and is the first player in the MAC this season with two interceptions in one game. Nationally, Walker is tied for the FBS lead with three picks and is averaging an NCAA-best 1.0 interceptions per game. He also is one of just six players nationally to record multiple picks in a single game so far this year.
MAC Football West Division Special Teams Player of the Week
Mitchell Tomasek, Eastern Michigan, P
JR, Columbus, Ohio
Junior punter Mitchell Tomasek punted seven times with a robust 45.9 yards per punt in Eastern Michigan’s 19-17 win on Saturday over UMass. With momentum swinging toward the Minutemen with less than five minutes remaining, EMU was clinging to a 13-10 lead and forced to punt from its own 15-yard line where Tomasek blasted a 61-yard punt to flip the field and ultimately forcing a block-in-the-back for net of 70 yards in field position. The 61-yard punt, his fifth of at least 60 yards for EMU, is the fourth-longest of his career for Tomasek, who placed three punts inside the 20 on the day. Overall, the Eagle currently ranks 13th in the nation with a 45.4 punting average.