For Northern Illinois and Bowling Green, this is a rubber match of sorts.
The Mid-American Conference Championship Game on Friday night will have a familiar feel, with the Huskies and Falcons squaring off for the third straight season. Bowling Green won 47-27 in 2013, and last year NIU took the title in a 51-17 rout. This is the sixth consecutive appearance by Northern Illinois in the MAC title game.
This was supposed to be the year Northern Illinois fell short. Toledo was the preseason favorite in the West, and the Rockets spent time in the Top 25, but when the teams faced each other in early November, NIU came away with a 32-27 road victory.
Toledo still had a chance to wrap up a spot in the title game, but the Rockets lost at home last week to Western Michigan, creating a four-way tie for first place in the division. The tiebreaker went to NIU (8-4).
"It's one of those things where your fate isn't in your hands and it's always rough," NIU coach Rod Carey said. "I will tell you this: This team's earned the right to be there, with everything that we've gone through."
Bowling Green (9-3) lost only once in MAC play this year, at home against Toledo.
Odom replaces Pinkel
Missouri promoted defensive coordinator Barry Odom to replace the retiring Gary Pinkel as head coach.
The school said in a release Thursday that Odom agreed in principle to a five-year deal that needs approval by the school's board of curators next week.
Odom, 39, will be formally introduced Friday at a news conference.
Memphis tabs Norvell
Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell will be the new head coach at Memphis, a person with knowledge of the decision told the Associated Press.
University President Dr. M. David Rudd wrote on Twitter late Thursday afternoon that he hired a "great football coach" who would be introduced Friday. That coach is Norvell, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the hiring hasn't been announced yet.
Norvell, 34, replaces Justin Fuente, who was hired by Virginia Tech after four years at Memphis.
Fuente adds to staff
Fuente will keep Virginia Tech secondary coach Torrian Gray and defensive line coach Charley Wiles on his Hokies staff.
The school said in a release that Gray and Wiles are the fourth and fifth assistants hired by Fuente, joining holdover defensive coordinator Bud Foster from Frank Beamer's staff, and James Shibest and Holman Wiggins, who were on Fuente's staff at Memphis.
• Georgia said assistant head coach and wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon will serve as interim head coach in the bowl game.
• Former Georgia coach Mark Richt will be introduced as Miami's new coach Friday.
• Michael Haywood agreed to a four-year deal to become head coach at Texas Southern.
• Jacksonville parted ways with football coach Kerwin Bell after nine seasons.