A busy few days for the Louisville football program, that began with them announcing their departure from the Big East to the ACC, followed by a huge win to claim a share in the conference title, but more importantly earn a spot in a BCS Bowl, probably the Orange Bowl, thanks to a fantastic comeback led by Teddy Bridgewater.
The Cardinals were the last of the Big East teams to pick up a loss this season, but no one ever considered them to be a national championship material, and the season wore on, it seemed like Rutgers, maybe even Cincinnati, will be the class of the conference. It all came down to Louisville heading to Piscataway, New Jersey, in the clash of two 9-2 teams playing for the right to earn a lot of BCS money, while both heading towards a future in different conferences while the Big East falls apart.
The Cardinals won a share of the division title last season, but it wasn’t enough for more than the Belk Bowl and a loss to North Carolina State. The late field goal by John Wallace from 29 yards meant that the Cardinals didn’t just ruin Rutgers’ chances of winning the Big East (no sharing) for the first time and playing in a BCS Bowl for the first time ever; it also meant that Louisville got to a BCS Bowl for the first time since the 2006 season, in which they played and won against Wake Forest.
The Cardinals have been all about Teddy Bridgewater’s play this season. The Sophomore quarterback went through his worst game of the season five days earlier in the triple overtime loss to Connecticut. He started on the bench and saw Rutgers take a 14-3 lead, suffering from a bad ankle and a broken wrist, preventing him from taking snaps. It didn’t matter.
Rutgers are one of the best teams in the nation when it comes to third quarters, but they were outscored by the Cardinals 14-0 in the third. First it was a surprising shovel pass from Bridgewater that was the end of an 8 minute, 90 yard drive that thrust the Cardinals back in the game. They only had to wait a few seconds to the lead, recovering a fumble on the kick return, and Bridgewater made a great looping pass into the end zone, caught by DeVante Parker.
A school that was in Conference USA only 8 years ago is now making another huge jump. They aren’t that much of strangers to big time bowls, but it still feels a little weird. Charlie Strong, into his third year with the program, is already rumored to be attracting suitors from the SEC, like Auburn and Arkansas. In 2014, Louisville will be playing in the ACC, but despite all the denials, he might not be around that long to make the adjustment to a new conference along with his Cardinals.
For now, there is only the BCS Bowl and Teddy Bridgewater’s health to think about. There’s actually a chance they won’t be playing in the Orange Bowl but the Sugar Bowl instead. I’m pretty sure no one on the red side of Kentucky really cares which one it is.