No. 6 Auburn hangs on vs. Louisville in Atlanta, where Tigers hope to return in Dec.

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No. 6 Auburn (1-0) got its season off to a great start in Atlanta. If things go according to plan, these Tigers will be back in the Georgia Dome at the end of the season in the SEC Championship Game. Auburn seemed poised to put the game on cruise control with a 17-0 lead at halftime, but Louisville (0-1) made Auburn keep its foot on the gas pedal in the second half. Auburn held on for a 31-24 victory, with every second counting down the stretch.

Auburn’s defense made some plays, including an 82-yard fumble returned for a touchdown, but Louisville put together over 400 yards of offense, including 240 on the ground. Will Muschamp added some fire to the defense at first but it will have to show more consistency moving forward, especially in SEC play. Auburn’s offense struggled at times as well, showing room for improvement, which may be a little scary.

Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson was intercepted three times by the Louisville defense, which is a strength for the Cardinals even though this result may not show it on the scoreboard. Johnson completed just 11 of his 20 pass attempts for 140 yards. The three interceptions thrown were never anything that hurt Auburn on this day though, as Louisville could only muster three points off of the turnovers, while punting the other two times. The lesson here is Lousiville needs to find a way to cash in on those free opportunities, otherwise they could easily get burned in ACC play later on. The Cardinals also need to find a rhythm in the passing game. Lamar Jackson was just 9-of-20 for 100 yards and an interception. Reggie Bonnafon was 8-of-13 for 67 yards when given a chance to lead the offense.

Auburn got a big day on the ground from Peyton Barber, who rumbled for 109 yards on 25 carries. Ricardo Lewis and Johnson each ran for a touchdown.

Louisville will return home next weekend to host what could be a tricky Houston team. The Cougars have a new head coach in Tom Herman, and could bring some good offense to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium next weekend. Auburn will also be home next week, hosting Jacksonville State.

Ex-Penn State QB Tyler Ferguson transferring from Louisville, too

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With one move, Louisville’s five-man quarterback competition has been pared down to four — and by a player used to moving at that.

While the school has yet to announce it, Scout.com is reporting that Tyler Ferguson has decided to transfer out of the Cardinals’ football program.  According to the report, Ferguson has been granted a full release to transfer to another football program.

The move away from the Cardinals marks Ferguson’s second departure from a Power Five school in less than two years.

In early December of 2013, Ferguson asked for and was granted his release from his Penn State scholarship.  A month later, he landed at Louisville, sitting out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Technically, though, this serves as Ferguson’s third transfer since beginning his collegiate career.

Transferring to Happy Valley from the JUCO ranks in early 2013, Ferguson was involved in the competition for the Nittany Lions’ starting job beginning in the spring.  The arrival of five-star recruit Christian Hackenberg over the summer ended Ferguson’s hope of being named the starter as the true freshman quickly grabbed the reins.

Shortly after Hackenberg arrived on campus, rumors surfaced that Ferguson was considering a transfer.  He remained though, and, appearing in four games in 2013, Ferguson completed 10-of-15 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown.

(Photo credit: Louisville athletics)

LSU’s Leonard Fournette headlines 44 named to Paul Hornung Award watch list

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It’s early July, so you know what that means: Slow news days and everyone’s favorite, watch lists! Today’s list of players who could win an award in December is for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation’s most versatile player

The list:

Ishmael Adams, UCLA
Budda Baker, Washington
V’Angelo Bentley, Illinois
Rashon Ceaser, Louisiana Monroe
Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
Trevor Davis, California
Matt Dayes, N.C. State
Cameron Echols-Luper, TCU
DeVon Edwards, Duke
Tyler Ervin, San Jose State
Leonard Fournette, LSU
Autrey Golden, UTEP
Jamal Golden, Georgia Tech
Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
Janarion Grant, Rutgers
Carlos Harris, North Texas
Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
Myles Jack, UCLA
Adoree’ Jackson, USC
Corey Jones, Toledo
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina
William Likely, Maryland
T.J. Logan, North Carolina
Byron Marshall, Oregon
Jalin Marshall, Ohio State
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Elijah McGuire, Louisiana Lafayette
Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia
Ronnie Moore, Bowling Green
Teldrick Morgan, New Mexico State
Charles Nelson, Oregon
Speedy Noil, Texas A&M
Daz’Mond Patterson, Ohio
De’Mornay Pierson-El, Nebraska
James Quick, Louisville
Alex Ross, Oklahoma
R.J. Shelton, Michigan State
Ryan Switzer, North Carolina
Jahad Thomas, Temple
Jaylen Walton, Ole Miss
Shane Williams- Rhodes, Boise State
Stanley Williams, Kentucky
Myles Willis, Boston College
Dontre Wilson, Ohio State

Fournette should be the early favorite here — in the Music City Bowl against Notre Dame, he rushed for 143 yards on 11 carries (including an 89-yard TD run) and returned a kick 100 yards for a score.

Then again, Fournette could be considered a favorite to win just about any award he’s eligible for in 2015.

Akron the new home for ex-Louisville WR Michaelee Harris

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With his injury-plagues time at Louisville at an end, Michaelee Harris is hoping his move to the MAC will bring him better fortune.

Mark Blankenbaker of TheCrunchZone.com reported earlier this week that Harris has decided to continue his collegiate playing career for Terry Bowden at Akron.  And, because he will be a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately for the Zips in 2015.

Harris came to the Cardinals with much promises, but health issues — specifically, knee issues — mostly derailed the lofty expectations.

A four-star member of the UofL’s 2010 recruiting class, Harris was rated as the No. 16 receiver in the country; the No. 21 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 121 player overall according to Rivals.com.  Harris, though, missed all of his true freshman season with a knee injury.  In March of 2011, he tore a PCL in his knee during winter workouts, although he returned to lead the Cardinals in receptions (37) and receiving yards (455) during the regular season.

However, he missed his team’s bowl game with a torn ACL.  Then, in August of 2012, he sustained another torn ACL during summer camp and missed that entire season.

He stayed relatively healthy the past two seasons, catching 15 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns before the production dipped to 9-113-1.

As he missed two full seasons because of injury, he was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA.

Petrino putting together deep QB position with another 4-star commit

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Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino is starting to fill up his quarterback depth with some good quality. The Cardinals added a verbal commitment from four-star quarterback recruit Tylin Oden on Monday. Oden is now the top-rated player in Louisville’s growing Class of 2016. He announced his commitment the way all kids make their announcements these days; on Twitter.

“I would like to thank my family, friends, school, and teammates for being with me every step of the way,” Oden said in a miniaturized statement on Twitter. “I’m honored to announce that I’ve officially committed to the University of Louisville. L’s up.”

Oden, a dual-threat quarterback from Tennessee, is the seventh-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country and the sixth-bets recruit from the state of Tennessee according to Rivals. The 6-foot-5, 175-pound recruit is Louisville’s 10th in the Class of 2016, and second four-star quarterback recruited by Petrino since his return to the program. Louisville’s Class of 2015 added Lamar Jackson from Florida.

Per The Courier-Journal, Oden chose Louisville over offers from Mississippi State and West Virginia. Louisville had been considered the favorite.

Louisville will bring back Will Gardner in the fall, as well as Reggie Bonnafon and Kyle Bolin. Former junior college and Penn State quarterback Tyler Ferguson will also be eligible to play at Louisville this season.