Stop me if you've heard this one before. On Friday, the Bowling Green Falcons and the Northern Illinois Huskies will meet at Ford Field in Detroit for the 2014 Mid-American Conference Championship. The game is a rematch of last year's title game won by the Falcons, 47-27.
As we head into this year's game, let's take a quick look back at some of the notables in last year's game and see what they have been up to the last twelve months.
Bowling Green Falcons
Soon after the championship game, it was announced that Clawson had taken the head coaching job at Wake Forest. He did not coach the Falcons in their 2013 Pizza Bowl game against Pittsburgh. Clawson's Wake Forest team went 3-9 this past year, including a 1-8 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clawson finished his five year run at Bowling Green with a 32-32 record. However, he methodically rebuilt the Falcon program that culminated in a championship. He'll look to do the same thing with the Demon Deacons.
Bayer led the Falcons in receiving in the championship game with seven catches for 124 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown. He finished his career with 1,543 receiving yards, placing him in the top 20 all-time in Bowling Green history. Bayer was not drafted but signed as a NFL free agent with the St. Louis Rams. He led the Rams in receiving during the preseason and made their 52-man roster. He has been contributing on special teams for the Rams during his rookie season.
Just a red-shirt sophomore, Johnson exploded in the championship game going 21 of 27 for 393 yards and five touchdowns. His five touchdown passes set an all-time MAC championship game record and he was named the Most Valuable Player. Johnson was named preseason All-MAC first team heading into this season. However, his season was cut short when he was injured in the Falcon's opener against Western Kentucky. The hip injury he sustained was serious enough to cost him the entire season. Johnson opted not to have surgery and let the hip heal on its own. He has recently indicated through social media that his rehabilitation is going fine and he hopes to be ready for spring practice in April. It is yet to be seen if Johnson will apply for a medical redshirt and another year of eligibility.
Northern Illinois Huskies
The championship game capped one of the most illustrious careers ever in the MAC for Lynch. He would be named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and was invited to the awards show in New York City. He eventually finished third in the voting for the award. Lynch was not drafted but signed a NFL free agent contract with the Chicago Bears. He went through training camp as a running back but was released as the final roster was announced. In two preseason games with the Bears, Lynch rushed for 42 yards on 13 carries. Lynch has not given up on his dream of playing in the NFL and recently worked out for the Detroit Lions.
Ward led the Huskie defense with 12 tackles in last year's championship game. He was an All-MAC selection in 2013 as well as being named as a third-team All-American by the Associated Press. Ward was a first round selection in the 2014 NFL draft, going at number 30 to the San Francisco 49ers. He played in eight games this year for the 49ers, recording 20 tackles before landing on the Reserved/Injured List. Ward has received praise for his play during his rookie season and looks to have a bright future with the 49ers.
Bishop was a starting defensive lineman in the championship game for the Huskies and was an consensus 2013 first-team All-MAC selection. Bishop was selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Through the first six games of the season, Bishop had two tackles and a quarterback pressure in three appearances on the season. He currently is not on the active roster and is signed as a member of the Cowboys practice squad.