While Louisville’s Big East conference win certainly is newsworthy on its own, perhaps the bigger story is the ironman performance of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who came off the bench to lead the Cardinals back from a double-digit deficit.
“The legend of Teddy Bridgewater continues to grow every single game,” said Stein, who started the day at quarterback before Bridgewater replaced him in the second quarter. “He’s the heart and soul of our team, even though he’s an underclassman.”
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More Conference Notebooks
SEC: Tide runs to national title game
Pac-12: Stanford moves into the spotlight
ACC: Williams delivers for Seminoles
Big 12: Kansas State finishes the job
Big Ten: Montee’s Big Ten Ball in Indianapolis
Big East: Bridgewater’s legend grows
Bridgewater fought through a high-ankle sprain and a broken wrist to throw for 263 yards and two touchdowns as well as leading a game winning drive to set up a John Wallace field goal.
“Once you think he’s done something incredible he just re-ups the ante, said Kupper. “It’s been a real joy playing with him the past two years.”
Stein says Bridgewater’s gutsy performance reminded him of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
“He propels us to victory each and every week,” Stein said. “By the time he leaves here I think he’ll be the best football player to ever come through the University of Louisville.”
High praise considering Louisville graduated NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas.
With the win against Rutgers, Louisville is likely headed to the Orange Bowl. And while Bridgewater’s performance will likely go down in Louisville history, Stein reminds his teammates they still have one more job.
“The season’s not over with, it’s just beginning, Stein said. “We got a huge game coming up against whoever we play. We just gotta bring our A-game and play Cardinal football and finish the season off right.”
Complete Conference Standings
Cincinnati (9-3, 5-2 Big East)
• A fourth-quarter scoring run helped the Bearcats over the Huskies and give them a share of the Big East with Louisville.
cQuarterback Brendon Kay had another solid game, throwing for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Kay has thrown for 950 yards and 6 touchdowns in five games after stepping in for the turnover-prone Munchie Legaux mid-season.
• Head coach Butch Jones will go to his fourth career bowl game.
Next Game: vs. TBA
Connecticut (5-7, 2-5 Big East)
• The Huskies kept it close, trailing by only four points at the start of the fourth quarter, but eventually lost control of the game. The UConn offense struggled as it had all season, rushing for only 36 yards and turning the ball over three times.
• Once again the Huskies finished one game away from bowl contention, as coach Paul Pasqualoni is now just 10-14 after two seasons at Uconn.
Next Game: Season complete
Louisville (10-2, 5-2 Big East)
• The Cardinals were held out of the end zone until the final seconds of the third quarter Saturday when Bridgewater hit Jeremy Wright on a shuffle pass to get the Cardinals within four points of the Scarlet Knights. The comeback was complete when James Burgess picked off a Gary Nova pass that lead to the winning field goal.
• This will be the Cardinals third straight bowl appearance in the Charlie Strong era and the second BCS appearance in school history.
Next Game: TBA
Pittsburgh (6-6, 3-4 Big East)
• The Panthers were the model of consistent inconsistency in 2012. Pitt completed the trend by finishing off the Bulls thanks to a pair of Ray Graham touchdowns.
• The Pitt defense had its best performance of the year, shutting South Florida out for three quarters and forcing four turnovers.
• The Panthers are bowl eligible in coach Paul Chryst’s first season as head coach.
Next Game: TBA
No. 21 Rutgers (9-2, 5-1 Big East)
• The Scarlet Knights jumped on the Cardinals early, thanks to touchdown passes of 85 and 68 yards from quarterback Nova. But it was Nova who ultimately did the team in, throwing two fourth-quarter interceptions. One led to Louisville’s game winning score and the other halted a potential game-tying drive.
• The Scarlet Knights have now lost back-to-back games for the first time all year as well as letting up 20 or more points for the second straight game.
Next Game: TBA
South Florida (3-9, 1-6 Big East)
• The Bulls’ season of disappointment came to an end in predictable fashion, with USF falling to Pitt. The Bulls had their worst offensive showing of the year, scoring a season-low three points and putting together only 117 yards of offense.
• Freshman quarterback Matt Floyd did nothing to increase USF’s faith in him as a successor to injured senior B.J. Daniels, throwing three more interceptions to put his season numbers at 466 yards with zero touchdowns and five picks.
Next Game: Season over
Syracuse (7-5, 5-2 Big East)
• The Orange were one of the Big East’s most resilient groups in 2012, coming back from a 1-3 start to come within a UConn win of possibly sharing part of the Big East crown.
• The 2012 Syracuse squad has set or tied nine records this season, including total offense (5,681), yards per game (473.4) and first downs (276). Senior quarterback Ryan Nassib also became the school’s single-season record holder in all major passing categories except touchdowns.
Next Game: Bowl game TBD
Temple (4-7, 2-5 Big East)
• Temple coach Steve Addazio dealt with turmoil in his second season, finishing the season five wins short of his 2011 total.
• “I thought there were some really good moments, I thought there were some hard moments,” Addazio said of the 2012 season. “We’d have those moments where we’d just kind of get unglued a little bit and didn’t have the ability to overcome that.”
Next Game: Season complete
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