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Louisville starting QB Jawon Pass ruled out vs. Western Kentucky

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An injury suffered in the season opener will impact Louisville in Week 3.

Jawon Pass (pictured) suffered what’s only been described as a lower-extremity injury in the season-opening loss to Notre Dame.  It wasn’t severe enough, however, to keep the starting quarterback out of the Week 2 win over Eastern Kentucky.

With Western Kentucky on tap for later this afternoon, it has now been confirmed that the injury has gotten progressively worse throughout the week and will sideline Pass for the game.

In Pass’ place, Malik Cunningham will get the start.

A redshirt sophomore, Cunningham will be making his fourth career starts, with the first three coming in 2018.  Last season, Cunningham led the Cardinals with 497 yards rushing and five scores on the ground.

As Pass’ primary backup in 2018, Cunningham completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 473 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  This year, after missing the opener because of his own injury, he’s completed his one pass attempt for 24 yards

First-year head coaches (barely) finished above .500 in 2019 debuts

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For those FBS schools that made changes at the top of its program last year and on into early 2019, the results, at least for the opening weekends of the college football season, were decidedly mixed.

Entering Weeks 0/1, a total of 26 head coaches were in their first games (two coaching a second first game) with their respective schools. Of those 26, 15 won their opening matchups while *uses fingers to do the math, takes off shoes when fingers run out* 11 dropped their openers.

Seven of the head coaches new to their current schools — Akron (Illinois), East Carolina (NC State), Houston (Oklahoma), Liberty (Syracuse), Texas State (Texas A&M), UMass (Rutgers) and Utah State (Wake Forest) — led off with Power Five opponents; not surprisingly, all seven of those ended up exiting Week 1 with a loss.  Exactly half of the 26 kicked off against FCS schools, and just one, Western Kentucky to Central Arkansas, failed to come away with a win.

At the other end was Louisville and North Carolina leading off with matchups against Power Five foes, Notre Dame for the former and South Carolina the latter.  The Cardinals extended their nation’s-worst losing streak to 10 in a row while the Tar Heels got past the Gamecocks in Mack Brown‘s return to Chapel Hill.

Oh, and there was Hugh Freeze‘s official return to coaching from a hospital bed up in the coaches’ box in Liberty’s loss to Syracuse.

WIN (15)
Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State (beat East Tennessee State, 42-7)
Scot Loeffler, Bowling Green (Morgan State, 46-3)
Jim McElwain, Central Michigan (Albany, 38-21)
Brad Lambert, Charlotte (Gardner-Webb, 49-28)
Mel Tucker, Colorado (Colorado State, 52-31)
Les Miles, Kansas (Indiana State, 24-17)
Chris Klieman, Kansas State (Nicholls, 49-14)
Mike Locksley, Maryland (Howard, 79-0)
Mack Brown, North Carolina (South Carolina, 24-20)
Thomas Hammock, Northern Illinois (Illinois State, 24-10)
Ryan Day, Ohio State (FAU, 45-21)
Rod Carey, Temple (Bucknell, 56-12)
Chip Lindsey, Troy (Campbell, 43-14)
Matt Wells, Texas Tech (Montana State, 45-10)
Neal Brown, West Virginia (James Madison, 20-13)

LOSS (11)
Tom Arth, Akron (lost to Illinois, 42-3)
Mike Houston, East Carolina (NC State, 34-6)
Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech (Clemson, 52-14)
Dana Holgorsen, Houston (Oklahoma, 49-31)
Hugh Freeze, Liberty (Syracuse, 24-0)
Scott Satterfield, Louisville (Notre Dame, 35-17)
Manny Diaz, Miami (Florida, 24-20)
Jake Spavital, Texas State (Texas A&M, 41-7)
Walt Bell, UMass (Rutgers 48-21)
Gary Andersen, Utah State (Wake Forest, 38-35)
Tyson Helton, Western Kentucky (Central Arkansas, 35-28)

Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott says Western Kentucky win is actually tops in program history, not Tennessee

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It’s bad enough that Tennessee is dealing with losing perhaps their worst loss in program history on Saturday when they were run out of their own building by Georgia State. Now they have to deal with the added insult of not even being the best win in their opponents extremely youthful program history.

While on the abstract, beating a CUSA program in the Cure Bowl would seemingly rank down the list of great victories in school history, that’s not the case for Panthers head coach Shawn Elliott. His 2017 victory over Western Kentucky in Orlando that season sticks out for being the first bowl win GSU ever and capped off a successful 7-5 campaign in his debut leading the team.

Though he has a good reason as to why that is tops, it is a bit jarring after the fact for UT fans to see that beating an SEC program in their place is a bit further down the pecking order.

“It’s second,” Elliott said of the win over the Vols in a press conference after the game. “I want you to understand, to win that first bowl game in school history, that’s very, very special. We hoisted a trophy. We played in the postseason. In my 23 years of coaching, that will probably be the No. 1, top of the list in victories.

“As far as a football program, this one (Tennessee) is a close second. But we don’t get anything from this game. Maybe a pat on the back and three weeks people will forget what we’ve done.”

Something says that nobody will forget what Georgia State did on Saturday and certainly not in either Atlanta or, especially,  Knoxville for years to come.

FCS claims first FBS victim of 2019 as Central Arkansas stuns Western Kentucky with fourth-quarter comeback

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On Aug. 30 of last year, UC Davis knocked off San Jose State for the FCS’ first win over an FBS team of the 2018 season. Exactly 364 days later, we have our first lower-level slaying of an upper-level foe.

Central Arkansas came into Thursday’s night game against Western Kentucky as 10-point underdogs, looking every bit the part for most of the matchup as they entered the fourth quarter trailing its host 28-14. After three touchdowns in the last 15 minutes, however, the Bears left Bowling Green with a stunning 35-28 upset win over the Hilltoppers.

This marked UCA’s third win over an FBS foe, with the most recent coming against Arkansas State in 2016 and the first coming against… Western Kentucky in 2009, a fact that wasn’t lost on the football program’s official Twitter account.

Bears passers accounted for 404 yards and four touchdowns, with two of those touchdowns coming in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to tie the game.  A one-yard touchdown run with under seven minutes left by running back Carlos Blackman, who threw an 80-yard touchdown pass off a trick play to knot the score at 28-all, proved to be the game-winner.

The Hilltoppers last five possessions of the game, after they had held that 28-14 lead, ended on downs three times; a missed field goal once; and one punt.

The disappointing season opener was the first for Tyson Helton, who had taken over as head coach after Mike Sanford‘s 3-9 record led to his ouster after two seasons.

Western Kentucky gets immediate help from Georgia transfer Jaden Hunter

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We missed this a bit earlier in the week, but the NCAA’s version of transfer “rock, paper, scissors” has actually benefitted a Group of Five program.

Linebacker Jaden Hunter transferred from Georgia to Western Kentucky in late May of this year.  While it was originally expected that the redshirt sophomore would be forced to sit out the 2019 season, it has since been confirmed that Hunter will be eligible to play for the Hilltoppers this year.

Including this season, Hunter will have three years of eligibility that he can use in Bowling Green.

Hunter was a four-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 9 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Georgia.  He played in four games during his two seasons with the Bulldogs, splitting those appearances evenly over the past two years.