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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Aggies face last opponent in Louisville Cardinals at Music City Bowl

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Photo by Photo by Lawrence Smelser

Freshman wide receiver Christian Kirk attempts to get past South Carolina safety D.J. Smith.

Texas A&M can notch its fifth straight bowl win and evaluate its new starting quarterback when it takes on Louisville Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.

The Aggies will have sophomore quarterback Jake Hubenak as their starting quarterback after Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray transferred within the span of a week, which put an end to the season long carousel at the position.

Hubenak went 12-for-27 for 92 yards and a touchdown during four appearances this season. In 2014 at Blinn Junior College, the 20 year old was first in the NJCAA with 4,052 yards. He threw 47 touchdowns compared to only nine interceptions which gave him an impressive 5.2 to 1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

The Aggies (8-4, 4-4 SEC) started the season hot going 5-0 for a second straight year and garnered a No. 9 ranking before losing two games in a row to Alabama and Ole Miss, which pushed the Aggies to finish 3-4 in their last seven games.

Louisville (7-5, 5-3 ACC) began its season completely opposite to the Aggies with three straight narrow losses. The Cardinals fell to Auburn by a touchdown and fell by three to both No. 18 Houston and No. 1 Clemson.

The Cardinals enter the game after capturing an impressive 38-24 win over Kentucky and have won seven of their last nine games. The Aggies enter the matchup having lost their last game at Baton Rouge against LSU 19-7.

Freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson has impressed this season at Louisville after winning the starting job and throwing for 1,613 yards with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. The 6-3 playmaker ran for 734 yards and nine scores while averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

The Louisville defense has forced 27 turnovers, which were the most in the ACC. A&M turned the ball over 22 times, which was the most by an Aggie team since 2011.

A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said his team has had a fantastic time in Nashville leading up to the game and are eager to play a well-coached Louisville program.

“[Louisville] are a team that has been red hot and has lost some close games to quality opponents,” Sumlin said. “We recognize what Coach Petrino has done over the course of his career and this is another fine football team that has gotten better every week. First thing that jumps out to you is the guys up front are big and physical. They run well as a D and play extremely hard.”

Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said Hubenak is an experienced quarterback and has had quite the journey to becoming A&M’s starter.

“Jake has a unique story,” Spavital said. “If you’re going to say a word about him it’s perseverance. He took [a bunch] of hours in one semester at Blinn Junior College just so he could be a part of this Aggie football team. He’s prepared like he was going to be the starter since the day he stepped foot here.

Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis will look to capture his first bowl victory as an Aggie. Chavis said Jackson is a talented dual-threat quarterback.

“He’s a good runner,” said Chavis. “You’ve got to account for him every time as a runner and he can throw the football very well but it isn’t anything we haven’t seen.”

Spavital said he was excited to see Hubenak receive his first start as an Aggie and see what he can do.
“We’re pretty fired up to get Jake Hubenak out there and watch him go around,” Spavital said. “Mentally the kid’s ready to play and I’m excited to see him go out there and have some fun.”

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