Quick Hits: Louisvile 34, Cincinnati 31 (Overtime)
Instant analysis of the Cardinals' comeback win over the Bearcats.
Louisville Won. John Wallace knocked home a 30-yard field goal in overtime to finish off a comeback from 10 points down in the second half, and also to move the Cardinals one step closer to a BCS bowl with their eighth consecutive win. At one point in the third quarter, Louisville trailed 24-14, but was able to rally for 17 consecutive points to take a late, 31-24 lead – until Cincinnati responded with a quick score of its own to force the extra frame.
By now, they should be used to the adrenaline rush: Five of the Cardinals' last six wins have come by a touchdown or less.
Why Louisville Won. In a waterlogged matchup of dueling quarterbacks, Cardinal sophomore Teddy Bridgewater lived up to his All-Big East billing with 416 yards and two touchdowns passing, both scores coming in the fourth quarter on a pair of long completions to fellow sophomore DeVante Parker. For the night, Bridgewater connected on five passes covering at least 30 yards, and three covering 50 yards, to three different receivers. For the season, Bridgewater matched his freshman total of 14 touchdown passes in far fewer attempts.
Meanwhile, just a few days after he assured reporters that he would be the best quarterback on the field tonight, Cincinnati's Munchie Legaux was just 13-of-28 passing for 157 yards and three interceptions, the last one all but sealing the Bearcats' fate in overtime.
When Louisville Won. In fact, the Cardinals very nearly didn't win at the end of the first overtime, but were unwittingly granted a reprieve by Cincinnati coach Butch Jones. After Legaux was picked off by Terrell Floyd on the Bearcats' first possession with the ball, Louisville kept the ball on the ground on five consecutive plays to set up Wallace for a shot at the game-winning field goal. On the initial attempt, though, the snap was high and went through holder Will Stein's hands – a potential disaster that would have absolved Legaux for the ill-advised pick and sent the game to a second overtime, if Jones hadn't called timeout from the sideline in an attempt to "ice" Wallace just before the ball was snapped.
Instead of a life-saving break, Cincinnati was granted the timeout, and Louisville executed the re-kick flawlessly for the victory.
What Louisville Won. For starters, they take home the hardest-sounding trophy in sports: The Keg of Nails. (Cue metal guitar solo accompanying 19th Century sea shanty.) The Cardinals' win snaps a five-game losing streak against Cincinnati with the Keg on the line dating back to 2008.
Elsewhere: At 8-0, the Cardinals keep pace with Rutgers at the head of the Big East title race, and keep their chances alive for the first perfect season at Louisville in more than 80 years. They also match the 2006 Big East champs – still the only Louisville team to claim the title – for the best start since joining the conference in 2005.
What Cincinnati Lost. The Bearcats' first conference loss doesn't eliminate them from the Big East race, but it does reduce their margin of error to zero. After two weeks in the polls following an upset over Virginia Tech, back-to-back losses will likely keep Cincinnati from the polls for at least another three weeks, when it gets its last, best shot against the conference's other frontrunner, Rutgers.
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