Big plays give Cincinnati Bearcats 31-20 edge over ECU Pirates at halftime

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The first half of the meeting between the East Carolina Pirates and Cincinnati Bearcats was a microcosm for the seasons both teams are having.

The Bears lead 31-20 through two quarters, but the game is far from settled. Just like the American Athletic Conference, this game could go down to the wire.

Both teams are approaching this game like they any other contest they played in recent weeks.

The Pirates sputtered at points. The Shane Carden-led offense was in the red zone four times before the Pirates finally found the end zone.

Despite the slow start, Carden finished the half 20-of-35 passing for 255 yards. But the Pirates can’t continue to come up short after they successfully move the football. Cincinnati is far too explosive on offense to trade field goals for touchdowns.

The Bearcats’ explosiveness on offense showed up during the team’s first drive of the game. Quarterback Gunner Kiel targeted junior wide receiver Mekale McCoy for a short screen. The 6-6 receiver picked his way through blockers, tiptoed down the sidelines and finally burst past the Pirates’ secondary for a 55-yard touchdown.

McCoy caught six passes for 116 yards.

With the Bearcats trailing 20-14 in the second quarter, Kiel connected with junior Chris Moore on a post for a 66-yard touchdown pass.

But Cincinnati’s downfall all season has been its inability to stop opposing offenses. The Pirates already amassed 333 yards of offense compared to the Bearcats’ 393.

These two teams should continue their offensive onslaught during the second half. With more scoring to come, a chance to win an American Athletic Conference crown is riding on the outcome.

HBO confirms Penn State, Wazzu — but no Alabama — for ’24/7 College Football’ series

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Well, that was fun while it lasted.

Back in mid-August, it was reported that HBO had lined up four Power Five programs as part of a Hard Knocks-style series that is set to air this coming college football season, including Alabama along with Arizona State, Penn State and Washington State.  Wednesday, HBO confirmed that the latter three schools will indeed be involved, although it’ll be Florida, not Alabama, representing the SEC in what is being called a Docu-Reality series by the channel.

No Nick Saban?  Bummer.  All-access to Mike Leach? Yes, please!  With the added bonus of Herm Edwards?  A thousand times, yes!!!

From HBO’s release:

Narrated by Liev Schreiber, the voice of HBO Sports’ Emmy® award-winning documentaries and the 24/7 and HARD KNOCKS franchises, this four-part, limited college football series will document the lives of head coaches Dan Mullen (Florida), James Franklin (Penn State), Herm Edwards (Arizona State) and Mike Leach (Washington State), players, assistant coaches and more over one week during the regular season. 24/7 COLLEGE FOOTBALL will run for four consecutive weeks in October, beginning WEDNESDAY, OCT. 2 (10:00 p.m. ET/PT) with an hour-long special spotlighting the Florida Gators. The series is a collaboration between HBO Sports and Lucky 27 Media and Sport & Story.

“For many years, we have been enamored with the storylines and unrivaled traditions of college football, and we’re excited for the opportunity to expand the 24/7 franchise into the realm of college sports,” said executive producer Rick Bernstein in a statement. “Viewers will feel the tremendous electricity of some of the best atmospheres in the country, and see the meticulous preparation and challenges facing these programs in the build-up to gameday and during the game action. We are excited for the challenge of delivering a four-part series of four different college programs over a four-week period with the production values and storytelling associated with our 24/7 franchise.”

Below is the schedule released by HBO, so set your recordings accordingly:

Episode 1: Florida Gators
Debut date: WEDNESDAY, OCT. 2 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Chronicles Week Leading Up to Florida vs. Towson (Sept. 28)

Episode 2: Penn State Nittany Lions
Debut date: WEDNESDAY, OCT. 9 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Chronicles Week Leading Up to Purdue @ Penn State (Oct. 5)

Episode 3: Arizona State Sun Devils
Debut date: WEDNESDAY, OCT. 16 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Chronicles Week Leading Up to Washington State @ Arizona State (Oct. 12)

Episode 4: Washington State Cougars
Debut date: WEDNESDAY, OCT. 23 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Chronicles Week Leading Up to Colorado @ Washington State (Oct. 19)

Colorado State QB Collin Hill suffers third torn ACL

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If you don’t feel for Collin Hill, you are severely lacking in the soul department.

In October of 2016, the Colorado State quarterback suffered a torn ACL playing football for the Rams; in March of 2018, Hill suffered a torn ACL while playing a game of pickup basketball.  Tuesday night, CSU announced that Hill has been diagnosed with a third torn ACL that will, obviously, sideline him for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Hill suffered this latest serious knee injury in the second quarter of the Week 3 loss to Arkansas.

The redshirt junior will have another season of eligibility he can use in 2020.  It’s also possible Collins, who missed all of 2017 as he recovered from the first ACL tear, could receive a sixth year of eligibility that he could use the following season as well.

Prior to this season, Collins had started eight games for the Rams.  This season, he started all three games, setting a career-high with 374 yards passing in the opener and following that up with 367 yards in just over two quarters of play against FCS Western Illinois.

With Collins out, it’s likely Colorado State will turn to Patrick O’Brien, a transfer from Nebraska, as its starter, at least initially.

Alabama’s LaBryan Ray undergoes surgery, could return for LSU game

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On the LaBryan Ray front, there was a negative development that surfaced Wednesday as well as a potentially promising one as well.

Nick Saban confirmed earlier this week that LaBryan suffered an unspecified foot/ankle injury in Alabama’s Week 3 win over South Carolina and would be sidelined indefinitely.  A couple of days later, al.com is reporting that the junior defensive end has undergone surgery to repair the unspecified damage and will be sidelined “for a significant period of time.”

However, the same website, citing sources, writes that “there is a chance the junior could return later in the season and maybe even in time for the Crimson Tide’s game against LSU in early November.”

Such a timeline would mean LaBryan would miss, at the very least, the next five games.  That stretch includes conference home dates against Ole Miss (Sept. 28), Tennessee (Oct. 19) and Arkansas (Oct. 26) as well as a road trip to College Station Oct. 12 to face No. 17 Texas A&M.  Following a bye weekend after the Arkansas game, Alabama plays host to No. 4 LSU Nov. 9.

Obviously, he’ll miss this weekend’ game against Southern Miss as well.

Ray, a five-star 2017 signee, saw his true freshman season truncated by a foot injury.  After being named third-team preseason All-SEC over the summer, Ray had nine tackles and a sack prior to his injury.

Bob Davie expects to return to sidelines for New Mexico-Liberty game

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He’s not there quite yet, but Bob Davie is nearing a return to the sidelines.

Tuesday, New Mexico confirmed that offensive line coach/running-game coordinator Saga Tuitele will once again serve as acting head coach and be in charge of game management for this weekend’s matchup with in-state rival New Mexico State. Separately, head coach Bob Davie revealed that, barring an unexpected setback, he should resume coaching duties for the Sept. 28 game against Liberty, whose head football coach went through his own health issues over the past month as well.

Shortly after New Mexico beat Sam Houston State in its season opener, it was reported that Davie had experienced some type of “heart trouble” and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.  Shortly thereafter, UNM athletic director Eddie Nunez released a statement in which he confirmed that Davie “was taken to the hospital as a result of what appeared to be a serious medical incident” and asked “that you keep the Davie family in your prayers.”

Subsequent updates from the school indicated that Davie was doing well and is expected to make a full recovery, although not well enough to make the trip back to South Bend for the Week 3 game against Notre Dame.

Earlier this month, Davie stated that he was “not being too dramatic by saying [medical personnel] saved my life and my family will forever be appreciative.”

The 64-year-old Davie is in his eighth season as the head coach at New Mexico. He was also the head coach at Notre Dame from 1997-2001 before taking what turned out to be a decade-long sabbatical from the coaching profession. The Fighting Irish went 35-25 during Davie’s tenure, including losses in all three bowl appearances.

Davie served as the Irish’s defensive coordinator from 1994-96 before taking over for the retiring Lou Holtz.

At UNM, Davie has gone 34-55 in seven-plus seasons.