The most stressful part of the semester is upon us.  Late six-week exams, midterms, early ten-week exams, grading gulag, academic open houses, the beat goes on.

As does the football, and continued cheerful news from the Cold Spring Shops perspective.

First up on Saturday, Northern Illinois at Central Michigan, for some reason a difficult place to play.  Another weekend, another opportunity to come from behind.
In the history of NCAA football, no quarterback has accomplished what redshirt senior quarterback Jordan Lynch did Saturday: setting the NCAA record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a game.

In the Huskies’ 38-17 victory over Central Michigan, Lynch set the record by rushing for 316 total yards. The previous record holder was NIU’s own Stacey Robinson, who set the record in 1990 when he rushed for 308 yards against Fresno State.

Not only did Lynch secure his name in the NCAA record books, his 316 rushing yards rank him fourth in NIU history for most rushing yards in a single game. Lynch finished 37 yards short of former running back Garrett Wolfe’s school record of 353 yards against Ball State in 2006.

In Lynch’s record-setting performance on the ground, he ran the ball 32 times for an average of 9.9 yards per carry. Lynch got into the end zone on three occasions: on a 5-yard touchdown in the second quarter, a 1-yard touchdown plunge in the third quarter and a 3-yard touchdown rush in the fourth quarter. For his performance, Lynch was also named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week. Lynch did most of his damage in the second half as he shredded the Chippewas’ defense for 232 yards on 18 carries.

“Lynch and the blocking [were huge],” said Central Michigan coach Dan Enos. “He’s a great player. I’m not taking anything from Jordan Lynch, but you don’t just go up there and rush for 300 yards and nobody blocks.”
Of course not. Football is blocking and tackling.  Northern Illinois has been in several games that were close at the half (tied at Central Michigan) only to pull away in the second half by adjusting their mix of plays to favor those that had been working better.

Later that same evening came Wisconsin at Illinois.  There's no mixing at Wisconsin, just running.
Grab a big early lead by dominating play to take a soft home crowd out of the game. And then, after the home team makes a surge late in the half, re-establish control quickly in the second half.
The running sets up the play-action passing, although there's nothing quite as frustrating as a Bart Starr special that misfires.

After the dust settled, Northern Illinois enters the first BCS ranking at 18, and Wisconsin comes in just above Northern Illinois in the Associated Press poll, after demonstrating that the best college football team in Illinois isn't Northwestern or Illinois.

It's Throwback Thursday on Sunday, with the Packers wearing the colors of the 1929 - 1930 - 1931 first team to three-peat, and the Browns wearing the 1960s era colors worn by the Team Now Known As The Baltimore Ravens in the 1965 Mud Bowl, at the beginning of the 1965 - 1966 - 1967 three-peat.  The weather wasn't quite as foul, although it wasn't exactly blue skies and red leaves on the trees.
An underdog's rain, the type that can make a team such as the Cleveland Browns a bear to handle, waited until early in the second quarter before pelting down at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon.

But because the Green Bay Packers played extraordinarily well in that first quarter, precipitation and a slippery surface never became factors.

Neither did the Browns, a dangerous team with a talented, physical defense that never could catch up with Aaron Rodgers no matter how many anonymous teammates were next to him in the huddle.
Establish a lead, weather the rally, score two late touchdowns to secure the victory.

We're not yet to mid-season and many teams take the field with a lineup very different from what looked like the first team out of training camp.  Make helmets more effective at cushioning heads against concussion, does it come as any surprise that players might use their helmets more aggressively?   Peltzman effects, everywhere.

Perhaps the way forward is to replace those military-grade facemasks and industrial-strength plastics with brown leather helmets sans facemasks.

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