November 29, 2012

FAST REACT: Louisville beats Rutgers




Down 14-3 at halftime, Louisville outscored Rutgers 20-3 in the second half and secured its second BCS game with an interception with one minute left. CardinalSports.com's Howie Lindsey filed his quick thoughts as time expired.

- Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is so incredibly good. Playing with one good arm - ahem, great arm - and one good leg, Bridgewater passed for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns, completing 20 of 28 passes. It was one of those gutsy performances that makes a great career legendary. At the end of the game, Bridgewater was a national trending topic.

- With the win, Louisville, Rutgers and Syracuse are now tied for the Big East title at 5-2 in league play. Cincinnati could join that group with a win this weekend. After all the tiebreakers are completed, Louisville will represent the league in a BCS game as long as the Cardinals are the highest rated Big East team in the final BCS rankings.

- Now, the question is - which bowl? The Big East champ would normally go to the Orange Bowl in Miami, but if Kent State wins the MAC title game Friday night and finishes ahead of the Big East's top team, likely Louisville, then Kent State would likely go to the Orange Bowl, sending Louisville to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

- We won't know for sure which bowl Louisville is going to until Sunday night when the final BCS standings come out and the BCS bowls make their picks.

- Senior quarterback Will Stein started the game in place of Bridgewater. He found Damian Copeland for a nine-yard gain on the first play. Stein led Louisville to the 50 yard line before his first mistake. He ran the option and slid less than a yard short of the first down on third down on third down. He picked up the first down on a fourth down sneak, but not before he got an earful from Charlie Strong during a TV timeout.

- The second play of the game for Louisville was a false start on senior tight end Nate Nord. After a short gain by Stein, Louisville picked up a first down on a shovel pass to Jeremy Wright on third down. The drive survived that penalty, but stalled just past midfield.

- Rutgers hit for an 85-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Coleman on its first offensive play of the game. It was Rutgers' longest play of the season and the Knights' first touchdown on an opening drive this season. Later, Rutgers got a 63-yard touchdown that could have been stopped for less than a 10 yard gain with a proper tackle.

- Louisville didn't score during the fist three quarters against Connecticut. The Cardinals sent the game into overtime with a touchdown and a field goal in the fourth quarter before falling 23-20. Louisville could only muster a field goal in the first half against Rutgers.

- That all changed late in the third quarter when the Cardinals scored two touchdowns in 16 seconds.

- The shovel-pass to Jeremy Wright was a stroke of mastery by Bridgewater. Knowing that he couldn't run the ball on a bad ankle, Bridgewater chucked the pass forward at the last minute. Wright weaved his way through the defense and jumped into the end zone.

- Bridgewater's fourth quarter interception was catchable by Eli Rogers, but the pass was high and hard. Rogers normally has sure hands on receiving routes, but that was a tough grab. His fellow receiver Michaelee Harris, who is sitting out the season and is back in Louisville, tweeted "Dang (Rogers) aint nothin but like 5'9 we cant keep expectin him to climb the ladder."

- Louisville's defense stopping Rutgers for just a field goal after the interception was big. The Scarlet Knights pulled the score even at 17-17, but keeping them out of the end zone was crucial to Louisville's chances.

- After Louisville's offense couldn't get going, the Cardinals caught a big break on a big interception by James Burgess with 3:53 left in the fourth quarter. Burgess, a true freshman from Miami, has been huge for Louisville the last two games.

- On UofL's first play after the interception, Bridgewater laced a pass to senior receiver Andrell Smith for a big gain. The offense stalled inside the 15 yard line and Louisville took a 20-17 lead with 1:41 left on a field goal by John Wallace.

- Rutgers got a first down with just over a minute left. Instead of spiking the ball on first down, Rutgers QB Gary Nova chose to chuck it down field, but his receiver ran a 10 yard route. Instead, the lofted ball was picked off by Terrell Floyd at the 20 yard line.


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