David Carducci Blog: MAC Championship Live Blog ... Kent State vs. Northern Illinois, and the Orange Bowl on the Line?
By David Carducci
Previous Blog Entries
To contact David Carducci with a question or comment during the game, email him at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @CarducciKSU
Northern Illinois wins the MAC Championship 44-37
A disappointing finish to a thrilling game. Lynch was as advertised. Kent State showed the heart that led to its first MAC Championship game since 1972.
The Golden Flashes left it all on the field.
And while this is a disappointment, it doesn't diminish this season. There will be no Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl for Kent State ... but there will be the first bowl game in 40 years.
Stay tuned for that announcement on Sunday night.
OVERTIME NO. 2
- Demetrius Stone picks off the Keith pass in the end zone ... Northern Illinois wins it 44-37
- 4th-and-BCS ... Really 4th-and-8 from the 9-yard line. I'll settle for the 8.
- Keith throw over the middle, and a dropped interception ... second life ... or is this 47th life at this point.
- 1st-and-10 at the 11, Durham gets 2 yards to the 9
- 3rd-and-8, Pass interference ... first down at the 11
- 2nd-and-10, out of the shotgun with Archer the lone set, Dri gets just two
- Incomplete pass to Erjavec
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (touchdown)
- Lynch vaults into the end zone ... Kent State will need a touchdown on this possession.
- Bit on read, and Daniels goes for 23 on first down
Kent State chooses to go on defense in second overtime.
OVERTIME NO. 1
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (field goal)
- Field goal try by Sims is good from 40 yards ... on to overtime No. 2
- Incomplete pass on third
- No gain for Daniels on second
- 2 yards for Lynch on first down
KENT STATE (field goal)
- Field goal is good. Kent State leads 37-34 ... and Needs to hold Northern out of the end zone.
- Trick play ... reverse to Erjavec, fumbled and barely recoveredc by Keith. That forces a 33-yard field goal attempt by Cortez
- Durham for no gain, and that sets up 3rd-and-1 from the 5.
- 1st down from the NIU 14 ... And Durham gets 9 ... It'll be 2nd-and-1 from the 5. Northern uses its first timeout.
- Keith to Erjavec for just 5 1/2 on third and 6 ... but it sure looked like he had the first down. Replay coming. Further review, forward progress at the 14 ... FIRST DOWN!
- Archer no gain on 2nd down
- Durham gets 4 yards on 1st down
- Northern Illinois wins the toss ... elects to play defense.
0:00 ... Overtime.
First MAC Championship game ever to go to overtime!
Dooley sack of Lynch to end regulation!
0:44 ... Spencer Keith rolls to his left and spots Tim Erjavec in the end zone.
Another great play by the senior ties this one up again!
This game living up to its billing!
Best player on the field is Lynch ... but Kent State willing its way into this game!
An 11 play drive in just 2:23.
0:52 ... Keith to Hurdle for a loss of 3 yards back to the 22, and its 3rd-and-10 after Kent State's 2nd timeout.
Actually, it looks like they'll give him forward progress to the 20, so its' 3rd-and-7.
1:40 ... Another slant to Boyle for a first down at the Northern 23. Clock ticking ...
1:58 ... A slant to Humphrey on third down moves the chains. First down at the Northern 33.
2:16 ... Kent State with its first timeout of the half after sneaking in a 7-yard Durham run on second down. Golden Flashes will face 3rd-and-3 from Northern 40.
2:56 ... Incompletions on first two plays ... the first nearly a catch and fumble by Hurdle.
And on third down, Humphrey with an abosulte must catch diving at the Northern 47.
3:07 ... Just have to choose to look at this a little differently. Just 1:31 seconds ago we were down seven needing a stop ... basically we just got that.
And after another intentionally short kick and a Boyle return of 12 yards, the Golden Flashes have a short field starting at their own 42.
3:12 ... Northern wastes no time answering ... A Lynch 9-yard touchdown run has Norhtern back in the lead at 34-27.
3:39 ... Blown coverage and Northern Daniels races down the sideline for 43 yards on a pass from Lynch.
4:38 ... Northern will start at 25 yard line after touchback.
Total yards ... Northern 419. Kent State 189 ... And we are all tied up.
4:38 ... Are you kidding me!!!
Fumble on the play, picked up by Kent State's Zack Hitchens and returned 22 yards for a touchdown.
We are tied up at 27-27.
Two Kent State touchdowns in a matter of just 15 seconds and the dream is still alive!
4:46 ... Northern Illinois will start at its own 29.
Three timeouts. Can Kent State get one last stop of Lynch, who has 32 carries for 169 yards tonight.
4:53 ... A 5-yard touchdown run by Spencer Keith has Kent State back in it! Dropped back, saw an opening, then ran through, breaking tackles along the way
The play is under review. His knee may have been down just an inch shy of the goal line.
Review and play stands. Knee was down with the ball right at the goal line.
It's 27-20 Northern after Kent State's 8-play, 96-yard drive.
Spencer Keith was fantastic on that drive.
5:48 ... Keith running hard keeping on the zone read for a first down at the 10 yard line.
And then Keith again with a 5-yard carry to the 5... using the backs as decoys and going with the quarterback on the ground.
6:22 ... And a bigger throw and a catch deep down the field from Keith to Archer.
Throw it up ... let Archer run under it.
First down at the 22 after a 60-yard throw.
6:55 ... Big throw and a catch from Keith to Humphrey for nine yards on 3rd-and-7.
7:46 ... Northern's Neir catches the punt at the Kent State 4. Golden Flashes need to go 96 yards in a hurry, then get a stop.
9:00 ... This is going the wrong way fast. Kent State defense is having all kinds of trouble with Lynch whether its a straight quarterback draw or misdirection. Northern drive is all the way to the Kent State 33 ... and another third down ... 3rd-and-7.
A sack to force the first punt in a long time. Dana Brown on the sack of Lynch.
12:35 ... 3rd-and-8 for Northern at its own 8, and again Kent State can't stop Lynch. A straight quarerback draw goes for 15 and another first down that may be the back-breaker.
14:15 ... Kent State gambled and lost on 4th-and-7, Keith completing a pass to Arhcer but short of the marker. The quick hitter to the short side, but Archer didn't have the room to turn it up the field.
0:00 ... Northern extended its lead to 27-13, but Kent State is marching.
The Golden Flashes will face a huge 3rd-and-8 from the Northern Illinois 12 to open the fourth quarter.
Is this too early to consider this four-down territory down by two touchdowns?
To answer my own question ... I think it's too early.
Yes, a touchdown here and you are right there even with Northern controlling most of the action. But no points and the game might be over.
0:49 ... O-Line showing some real life on this drive, opening holes for 8 and 4-yard runs by Durham to move the chains.
First down at the Northern 14.
2:30 ... Eric Adeyemi with a great return of the short kick ... all the way to the NIU 37.
Need special teams plays like that to get back in this one.
The return by Adeyemi covered 45 yards.
2:43 ... A 29-yard Sims field goal has Northern Illinois up 27-13.
3:15 ... Northern is doing pretty much anything it wants now offensively. Marching again into the red zone. A first down throw by Lynch to the 20.
Need a mistake ... and a false start sort of accomplishes that. A bit off schedule now?
Maybe not ... two gashers have set up a third-and-three at KSU 12 ... an incomplete pass sets up a field goal try of 29 yards for Lynch.
5:34 ... Lynch just had a pass tipped on first down, and the wobbler came up just short of Luke Wollet for what could have been a huge pick.
6:26 ... Northern Illinois defensive line is just a bit too much to handle right now. Kent State is having a hard time opening holes in the running game and protecting Keith.
7:26 ... Lynch with a 1-yard run on third down, and Northern has a two-score lead at 24-13.
FBS single-season rushing total by a quarterback now broken by Lynch ... 1,702 yards by Denard Robinson in 2010. Lynch is now beyond that mark.
9:17 ... It's 4th-and-inches for Northern at the Kent State 47.
And the Huskies will go for it... and get 43 yards to the Kent State 4.
A killer around the left end. Only plus, Polk saved what looked like a sure touchdown.
10:46 ... The drive doesn't end in the end zone, but a short Freddy Cortez field goal manages to cut the Northern Illinois lead to 17-13.
Now can Kent State's defense build on this bit of momentum?
12:19 ... Big pass interference play throwing the fade to Humphrey with single coverage. Melvin with the penalty on third down.
That will give Kent State a first down at the Northern 11.
Needed this right out of the half!
13:59 ... Kent State finally has something going on offense. A 22-yard pass to Durham on second down gives KSU a first down at the Northern 28... Where Larry Dawson gets his first chance in a long time, carrying for four yards on the option. And of all people, the fake to Dri Archer on the dive play.
14:54 ... Nice return on the short kick by Josh Boyle, 28 yards to the Kent State 47 to start the second half.
Here are some halftime stats, and most of them are in favor Northern Illinois.
The Huskies lead in total yards (245-50), rushing yards (111-21), passing yards (134-29), first downs 15-4).
The big killer in that second quarter were the third-down conversions by Northern Illinois in the second quarter (5-of-7 in the quarter and 6-of-11 overall). Kent State has moved the chains twice on eight third downs.
Kent State's offensive and defensive lines are having a tough time with the Northern fronts.
The Golden Flashes ran a few misdirection plays to free Dri early second quarter, but the Huskies defensive line was able to recover both times for short or no gains.
Can the Flashes find a way to get the football to Archer in space?
0:00 ... Halftime at Ford Field: Northern Illinois 17, Kent State 10... Golden Flashes a bit on their heals right now.
0:47 ... Kent State doubled its first-down total on this drive after the Wood interception.
2:08 ... Leon Wood picks off Lynch at the Kent State 2 ... and it was much needed, ending another long Northern march.
Durham adds in a 13-yard run on first down, moving the chains for Kent State for just the third time.
5:17 ... Kent State's defense is on its heals, but unfortunately the offense isn't doing much better.
Total first downs: Northern Illinois 13, Kent State 2.
And after a sack of Keith, the Flashes are going three-and-out again.
8:06 ... Kent State defense just can't get off the field on third down ... and it's all because of Lynch. He is as advertised. The Golden Flashes had him corraled early, but he's running pretty free right now.
Now a first down at the Kent State 24.
9:37 ... Throw to the sideline intercepted by Northern's Durante at the Huskies 41.
Kent State needs to find a way to shift momentum.
Northern tried to go for the big play on first down, but just missed the deep throw to Moore.
Second down throw batted down by Richard Gray behind the line, setting up third down.
11:03 ... On a brighter note ... #GoFlashes is now "trending" on Twitter... these via a tweet up on the Flash Mob.
11:03 ... Lynch to Martel Moore for a 14-yard touchdown pass on third-and-nine. Game tied.
Kent State delivers the first punches of the bout. Now Northern fighting back.
11:35... Great play by Batton to get off a block and get Lynch from behind after a 1-yard gain, setting up a third-and-nine
13:27 ... A rare long return against the Kent State punt team. Not terribly long, but Sebastiano's 30-yard return is by far the longest of the season ... 10 yards prior to that one.
It was followed by one of those long seam passes from Lynch to Brown for 24 yards to Kent State 35.
Kent State's defense jumped out to a fast start, but the Huskies are rolling a bit now. Another first down has the ball at the KSU 15 on first down.
Can the Golden FLashes continue to play bend-but-don't break?
0:00 ... Kent State 10, Northern Illinois 3
0:14 ... This time Northern does kick the field goal ... a 27-yarder by Matthew Sims to cut KSU's lead to 10-3.
Defense held strong after giving up the first down.
Northern so determined not to kick it to Dri that Tyler Wedel boots it directly out of bounds at around the 30.
1:47 ... Northern lined up for a 47-yard field goal and faked it ... But before the snap, Northern's coaches called timeout.
The play looked like it would go for a first down.
Now Northern will go for the first down on 4th-and-3...
... and get it on a long rumble by Lynch.
3:24 ... Northern on the move. A few Lynch runs and a reverse has Northern in Kent State territory with a first down at the 37.
5:06 ... Freddy Cortez extends the lead with a 37-yard field goal. Kent State 10, Northern Illinois 0.
Cortez has now converted 12 of his last 14 field goal tries.
The 10 early points have come off of Northern Illinois blunders ... the fumble, the mis-hit punt, and deep starts due to illegal blocks on kick and punt returns.
5:15 ... Gadget play, badly underthrown by Matthew Hurdle on the reverse and trying to hit quarterback Spencer Keith. Similar play to the Army touchdown.
That followed by a failed shovel pass (the first of the season?) on third down.
6:28 ... Explosion play to Humphrey for 20 yards on the pass from Keith. Flashes now at the 21 of Northern and rapping at the door again.
7:30 ... Darius Polk is off to a very, very nice start.
First, the fumble forced and recovered on the punt.
Then on first down he closes on a screen to stop for no gain.
On third down, he sacks Lynch on a corner blitz from the left. A grounding call forces the punt. Sack went for 11 yards.
As for that punt, it flew only 14 yards. Kent State will start this drive from the Northern 36.
8:51 ... Another Northern penalty on a return. This time a hold on the kickoff. Northern will start drive No. 3 at its own 10.
8:57 ... Dri Archer moves up to No. 2 on the Kent State rushing touchdown list with 15 on the season... and more importantly, that means Kent State is on the board first.
Archer took a reverse 15 yards into the end zone.
The play was set up by a 7-yard run by Trayion Durham off the left side. After going right on Durham's first two runs of the game, Kent State went back to the bread and butter by running behind Winters and Kline. They set up a look to do it again, but gave to Archer on the reverse to the right.
9:49 ... First break of the game goes to Kent State... Darius Polk forced and recovered it on Sebastiano punt return.
Melchiori with another boomer.
Flashes at NIU 22.
11:21 ... First sack of the game. Strickland had him for a big loss but couldn't finish the tackle. Wollet cleaned up for a loss of three. Throw by Lynch on 3rd-and-12 incomplete. Kent State will get it back.
Northern picked up the first first down.
So far, Kent State's front seven is doing a good job against Northern's O-Line. Lots of pressure here early.
12:26 ... Northern forces its own three-and-out ... A Keith-to-Archer pass on first down picked up seven, but nothing after that.
A boomer by Melchiori, who just barely got the punt away. Missed tackle on coverage, but an illegal block in the back will push the Huskies back.
They'll start at own 14 after a 54-yard Melchiori punt.
14:22 ... Kent State defense forces a quick three-and-out, playing a screen pass perfectly on third down for a loss of one. Strickland with the gackle.
The punt on fourth down was followed by the worst "good" punt ... a 54-yard line drive that barely got off the ground.
14:28 ... Kent State with great pressure on Northern's first pass, Luke Batton forces Jordan Lynch to throw the ball away, setting up a third down.
7:00 p.m. ... About to kickoff ... Freddy says he wants to split the uprights on a kickoff tonight. First kick is a touchback. Hopefully Freddy gets a lot of chances to kick off.
6:59 p.m. ... Kent State wins the coin toss after Norhtern Illinois calls for tails ... Victory No. 1 on the night.
The Golden Flashes defer, and Northern will receive ... going left to right on your blog.
6:56 p.m. ... Kent State Golden Flashes take the field ... and led by Darrell Hazell on a dead sprint, waving his hands in the air to fire up the crowd.
PA announcer just asked me, "is that your head coach? You don't see that very often."
6:54 p.m. ... The Kent State Marching Band just finished the National Anthem.
Every time I hear the Anthem before a big game, I think of the end of Slap Shot, right before Charlestown took on Syracuse. Race through, and let's drop the puck!
6:36 p.m. ... Even from all the way up here, I can see those orange jackets.
The Orange Bowl reps are on the field, and all smiles.
I still can't believe there's an actual chance that we could all be in South Florida in a month, celebrating New Year's Eve, and getting ready to watch the Golden Flashes in the Orange Bowl.
It may or may not happen, win or lose ... but the fact that we are all here on Nov. 30 with that opportunity actually within reach is almost too much to fathom.
Here's a photo taken just a few seconds ago via Twitter:
6:22 p.m. ... This is a special night for all of us, as Kent State radio voice Ty Linder reminds us via Twitter.
This should be a big showing from Kent State fans considering 11 buses left Dix Stadium a few hours back.
It's been fun following their progress today on Flash Mob, including Spring Break Dennis. The photo is a little fuzzy, but this is reportedly Dennis walking through the gate at Ford Field.
6:13 p.m. ... By the way, the press box here at Ford Field is pretty high up in the rafters.
I've covered games here back when I was a beat writer for the Cleveland Browns, but I guess back then my eyes were better.
From up here, Trayion and Dri look the same to me.
Actually, that's not Dri at all. It's offensive coordinator Brian Rock.
Yep, time to get the eyes checked.
6:11 p.m. ... The Golden Flashes just did "the Nest" ... It's a pregame ritual with two packs of players lining up at opposite sides of the end zone, then walking slowly towards each other before gathering in one big group.
5:56 pm. ... Loud cheers as Kent State players take the field at Ford Field. Specialists out first as usual.
When Northern Illinois specialsts came out first a few minutes earlier, there was just one sound. A single, solitary "boo."
Golden Flashes in the home blue. Northern Illinois with the road white jerseys and black pants.
Crowd is starting to file in.
5:35 p.m. ... I just talked with a member of the team's support staff. He assured me the quiet on the team bus was a quiet focus. He said the team has been as focused as ever during film and meetings in the last few days.
I'm surprised that ESPN.com is giving the MAC Championship Game such short shrift.
I just visited the website's College Football page and there is no mention of the MAC Championship Game ... And despite the fact that the game is actually on one of its family of networks (ESPN2).
So what are the top five stories on ESPN.com College Football? UCLA vs. Stanford. The SEC title game. The Big Ten title game. A week 14 preview. And a story on Louisville's win last night.
UCLA vs. Stanford isn't even on an ESPN channel. It's on Fox!
4:46 p.m. ... The team bus is on its way to Ford Field from the hotel. I just saw a couple of photos on Flash Mob of the bus pulling away from the Marriott Renaissance.
In fact, as I'm typing this I got a text from a colleague on one of the buses who said you could hear a pin drop it was so quiet.
A focused quiet? A nervous quiet? My guess is focus based on my time around this team.
The big name to watch to night for Northern Illinois, other than quarterback Jordan Lynch, may be Alan Baxter. He is a senior defensive end who is a beast. He is also athletic enough to put a foot in the ground, change direction and make plays in the running game.
BLOG ENTRIES FROM EARLIER THIS WEEK:
THE FRIDAY NEWSSTAND
- Yahoo's Dan Wetzel says the MAC has the credentials to bust the BCS, "so why keep Kent State or NIU out."
- The Plain Dealer talks about Kent State as an underdog in tonight's game and says the "stats support it."
- The Beacon Journal's notebook looks at Darrell Hazell's contract.
- Kent State is buying into Darrell Hazell's belief system according to today's Columbus Dispatch.
- The Detroit Free Press features Kent State freshman linebacker Matt Dellinger in a return home.
- SB Nation takes a look at the national attention focused on Dri Archer.
- Opposition position from the DeKalb Daily Chronicle
- More on Northern Illinois in today's Chicago Sun Times, taking a look at the Huskies offensive line.
- The Rockford Register Star calls today's Kent State-Northern Illinois battle the "biggest MAC title game ever."
- The Central Michigan Life wonders if today's MAC title game means more college football parity.
- The Chicago Tribune says Kent State is playing at a new level.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29
What a setting here in Detroit.
Large banners featuring the Kent State and Northern Illinois logo are hanging in the Marriott Renaissance Hotel. Fans, coaches, administrators and players from both teams are everywhere.
I was a bit disappointed not to be able to attend the press conferences and walk through at Ford Field. Ty Linder and I had a radio commitment and couldn't leave northeast Ohio until a little after 2 p.m.
Apparently there was no breaking news from the pressers, though.
The good news for Kent State fans is Dri Archer appears to be healthy after suffering an ankle injury in last week's win over Ohio University. He did return to that game. Trayion Durham nearly rushed for 100 yards against Ohio despite a hip pointer. He should also be ready to go.
I haven't wasn't able to blog on Tuesday and Wednesday in large part because I have been working on a new project called the "Flash Mob."
Flash Mob is the new Social Media home for the Kent State Golden Flashes, and it works kind of like a timeline or DVR of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, internet news, etc., gathering it all in one place and giving you a visual idea of what is happening in the Kent State world.
The key to getting your pictures or tweets on the Flash Mob is simply using the hashtag #GoFlashes.
We are handing out flyers to all of the fans who will be coming to the game by bus, so we can track their experiences as they head to Detroit.
Several players and even athletic director Joel Nielsen tweeted shots from the bus today.
Hopefully on gameday tomorrow, there will be lots of photos from the game taken by fans in the stands, our own people on the field, and in the press box.
To visit Flash Mob on the Kent State website, go here: www.kentstatesports.com/FlashMob/GoFlashes
You can also get a full-page experience of Flash Mob by going to this website: kentstate.postano.com/
By now many of you have seen the photo of astronaut Kevin Ford wearing a gold Kent State shirt on the International Space Station.
The photos were sent in by Bruce Niewschwitz, a 1995 Kent State alum who works at NASA as a Strength, Conditioning and Rehabilitation Specialist.
According to Niewschwitz, Ford is a proud Notre Dame grad who is excited about his Fighting Irish getting ready to play for a national championship, but he also wanted to cheer on Kent State on its way to a MAC title.
The photo below was taken in the Cupola of the space station, which is a window facing earth.
And I thought Detroit was a pretty cool setting!
THE MONDAY NEWSSTAND
Some "experts" like the idea of Kent State as a "BCS buster" ... Some, well, not so much. Here's a look at what's being said on the Monday Newsstand:
- CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd doesn't like the idea of Kent State vs. Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, should it happen. But at least he admits the teams are just playing by the rules set up by the BCS.
- T.J. Mcaloon of the Bleacher Report thinks Kent State in a BCS is good for college football.
- Yahoo's Graham Watson calls Kent State the "Biggest Surprise in This Week's BCS Standings."
- The Plain Dealer's Elton Alexander on the possiblity of Kent State playing in a BCS game.
- Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal on a possible BCS Bowl berth.
- Oklahoman columnist Barry Tramel writes "Big 12 Football: We Are Kent State" in his blog.
- Tony Barnhart of CBSSports.com compares Kent State getting a BCS bid to ... Armageddon?
- Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News writes ... BCS Buster May Draw Cheers, Wreak Havoc.
- My favorite headline of the week, "Kent State... Seriously, Kent State... Could Deny OU A BCS Bid" comes from the Tulsa World.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26
Who would have ever believed we'd be sitting in a M.A.C. Center press conference in the final week of November and talking about the very real possibility of Kent State playing in a BCS Bowl?
Today's noon press conference was surreal as reporters kept sharing glances with Kent State officials and shaking their heads in amazement.
It may be time to suspend disbelief when it comes to the Golden Flashes athletic programs. Those reporters – and I was one of them – have covered some pretty hard-to-believe events involving Kent State teams and athletes over the years.
Who would have ever thought we'd see Kent State play a game with a Final Four berth in the NCAA men's basketball tournament on the line? We saw that in 2002. In fact, the last few weeks of Kent State football have felt quite a bit like that run. Back then, I remember a talk with my editor when I said out loud, "I'm going where to cover Kent State in what? This is really happening, isn't it?"
Who would have believed we'd see a Kent State alum win the British Open in 2003 during his first major as a PGA Tour rookie? And who would have ever believed we'd see one of the Kent State men's basketball players who led the Golden Flashes to the Elite Eight in 2002 end up on an NFL Pro Bowl roster a few years later?
Kent State baseball coach Scott Stricklin and Herb Page have long believed their teams could compete for national titles in sports usually dominated by southern schools. And while their programs have been fantastic on a national level, there was still a sense of the surreal as we watched the Golden Flashes at the College World Series and on the course at Riviera Country Club last spring when both teams finished fifth in the nation.
When Kent State negotiates its next Nike deal, it may be worth asking about supplying glass slippers in the contract. Our teams just keep going through them so fast.
At this point, why wouldn't teams 15-through-21 lose this past weekend, opening the door for Kent State to jump up to No. 17 in the BCS standings?
Why shouldn't the Golden Flashes' first bowl game in 40 years be the Orange Bowl or the Sugar Bowl?
Why wouldn't Orange Bowl officials be in attendance on Friday night in Detroit to watch Kent State and Northern Illinois battle for a Mid-American Conference Championship?
I'm done believing anything is impossible at Kent State because the impossible keeps happening.
PRESS CONFERENCE NOTES
ARCHER ON THE MEND … Dri Archer injured his ankle during Friday's win over Ohio University. He isn't 100-percent today, "but by Friday he'll be very close to 100-percent," said Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell.
Archer was held out of practice on Sunday. He is expected to be on the field for at least some of practice on Tuesday. Kent State's players had Monday off.
Archer vs. Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch is the matchup of playmakers and MAC player of the year candidates that everyone wants to see.
"I just got done watching their quarterback run around," said Hazell. "He is quite a player."
ON THE BCS … After being elevated to No. 17 in the BCS Standings, it only made sense that the first question of Monday's press conference would be about the possibility of Kent State playing in the Orange Bowl or the Sugar Bowl.
Move up one spot to 16, and Kent State is guaranteed a BCS bowl berth. To do that, the Golden Flashes need to beat Northern Illinois on Friday and possibly get some help from a Stanford win over UCLA and/or a Kansas State win over Texas.
Also not surprisingly, Hazell didn't want to talk about any of those possibilities.
"I'm not going to talk about that," he said. "I'll talk about Northern Illinois. That's the most important thing. If we don't focus on this game, we won't have those opportunities. This is a huge game for our university."
ROCKY VS. APOLLO, CINDERELLA VS. THE EVIL STEP MOTHER? … While Hazell didn't want to talk BCS, he was willing to acknowledge how special this run really is. He'd prefer to wait to reflect on that, however, after the season is over.
"This is Rocky," he said. "This is Cinderella in real life. It's real-life stuff. I'm sure the whole organization will look back at this year and say wow."
UNDER THE ROOF … Friday will mark the first time Kent State has played in a dome stadium since a 1985 trip to Syracuse. The Golden Flashes are 0-2 in domes, losing both games to the Orangemen, 22-10 in 1983 and 34-0 in 1985.
"I love domes," said Hazell.
He did warn that the one drawback of playing in a dome is the potential to get dehydrated. That's something Kent State is preparing for all this week.
The Golden Flashes are also toning down their practices just a bit in the hopes of having fresh legs on Friday.
"We've been practicing for a long time," said Hazell. "We've been practicing since August and the guys have been going at it since well before August. Now it comes down to doing the things we've done all season long. There's nothing new. We just need to be fresh when we do it … That will help our chances."
Practice was cut from the typical 19 periods to just 16 on Sunday. It's back to 19 periods on Tuesday, but "with a very quick whistle," said Hazell. "We want to make sure guys are not getting tangled up. That's another way of keeping them fresh."