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N. Illinois rallies, wins MAC

DETROIT — Mathew Sims kicked a 33-yard field goal on the final play to cap a furious comeback that gave Northern Illinois a 23-20 victory over Ohio in the Mid-American Conference title game Friday.

The Huskies (10-3) trailed 20-0 at halftime before rallying behind quarterback Chandler Harnish to their first MAC championship since 1983. It was a turnabout for Northern Illinois, which lost in the 2010 and 2005 MAC title games on last-minute touchdowns by Miami of Ohio and Akron.

"I said (Thursday) that this is where the senior class was going to leave its legacy, but I was terrible in the first half," Harnish said. "I didn't want to go out like that."

Ohio (9-4) led 20-7 in the fourth quarter, but Harnish threw a 32-yard touchdown to Martel Moore, then a 22-yarder to Nathan Palmer to tie it with 2:52 left.

Meyer eyes UF staff: New Ohio State coach Urban Meyer wants to add Florida receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill to his staff, the Columbus Dispatch reported. It had previously been reported that UF strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti had met with Meyer and was mulling whether to join his former Gator boss in Columbus.

Ex-Aggies coach miffed: Former Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is unhappy with the way he was informed of his firing and doesn't believe his dismissal was justified. He said he was fired Thursday by athletic director Bill Byrne as he pulled into the driveway of a recruit's home after a 6-6 season. He said he had not been given any indication of the move: "I feel like the program is definitely headed in the right direction, and I hope the next coach appreciates the opportunity he's going to get to work with these players."

Florida: Linebacker Dee Finley, who left the team in October, said he's transferring to Division II North Alabama.

ARIZONA STATE: The school has ended its pursuit of Houston's Kevin Sumlin for its coaching position, a Houston television station reported.

North Carolina: Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has interviewed for the head coaching vacancy, the Huntsville Times reported.

Penn State: Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen denied a website report that he will interview for the Nittany Lions coaching position Monday. Mullen, in his third season with the Bulldogs after working as Urban Meyer's offensive coordinator at Florida, has Pennsylvania ties.

UCLA: Boise State's Chris Petersen turned down an offer to coach the Bruins that would've paid him close to $4 million annually, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Vanderbilt: Coach James Franklin, who led the Commodores to bowl eligibility in his first year, is being rewarded with a contract extension. No terms were released.

N. Illinois rallies, wins MAC 12/02/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 3, 2011 12:18am]
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