Upsets set up wild finish
Notes: Kay wins again for Bearcats; Pitt still fighting for bowl
The two-team race between Rutgers (9-2) and Louisville (9-2) for the conference title became much more complicated after upset losses by both teams last weekend.
With losses to Pittsburgh and Connecticut respectively, the Scarlet Knights and Cardinals have opened the door for Syracuse and Cincinnati to each have a shot at the Big East crown.
The key team in the equation is Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights sit at the top of the conference with a 5-1 record. All the Knights need is a win against Louisville in the final game of the season to get the conference win and a spot in a BCS game.
Louisville needs a win against Rutgers and some help from the BCS voters. The Cardinals are third in the conference behind Syracuse with a 4-2 record and even with a win, they will be fighting Rutgers and Syracuse for a spot in the BCS as the highest-rated team of those three will represent the Big East should Louisville and UConn win.
For the Orange (7-5) that would mean they would have come back from a 2-4 start to win the conference.
“Obviously I look forward to the challenge of a bowl game,” coach Doug Marrone said.
A win by the Bearcats however will keep it a two-team race between Rutgers and Louisville as Cincinnati would jump the Orange thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker, but are out of the running for the conference title thanks to losses to both Rutgers and Louisville.
With so many possible outcomes to the season, it make Louisville’s triple overtime loss to UConn (5-6) all the more painful.
“When you’re in a position to finish out the season the right way when you have a group of seniors that you wan to go finish the season right for them we got to play better,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “Rutgers ended up getting beat [Saturday] so we’re still alive. This football team is still alive and we still have to go to Rutgers to win the game and get to the Orange Bowl.”
Either way, the Big East race, once a forgone conclusion, is now shaping up to be one of college football’s more exciting storylines in the final weeks of the regular season.
Cincinnati (8-3, 4-2 Big East)
• Brendon Kay got the start once again, leading the Bearcats past the Bulls for his second win of the year. A big part of the win was the performance of running back George Winn, who finished the day with 119 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
• The Bearcats will travel to Connecticut next week where a win with some help could give them a shot at a BCS bowl.
Next Game: vs. Connecticut, Dec. 1
Connecticut (5-6, 2-4 Big East)
• The Huskies outlasted the Cardinals in dramatic fashion in triple overtime last weekend. Blidi Wreh-Wilson intercepted a Terry Bridgewater pass to set up the wining Chad Christian field goal.
• Running back Lyle McCombs had his first back-to-back 100-yard rushing performance, totaling a season-high 133 yards in the win.
Next Game: vs. Cincinnati, Dec. 1
Louisville (9-2, 4-2 Big East)
• A Bridgewater pass with 21 seconds left sent the Cardinals into overtime after trailing the entire game. Bridgewater would add another touchdown in the second overtime to go with 331 yards passing but threw the crucial pick in the third overtime that sealed the Cardinal’s fate.
• Louisville’s ground game continues to struggle with the absence of leading rusher Senorise Perry. The Cardinals could manage only 27 total rushing yards in the loss.
Next Game: vs. Rutgers Nov. 29
Pittsburgh (5-6, 2-4 Big East)
• Three second-quarter touchdowns on one of the nation's top defenses put the Panthers over the top and keep coach Paul Chryst’s team in the mix for a bowl game.
• The stars shown again for Pitt with quarterback Tino Sunseri throwing for 227 yards and two touchdowns while Ray Graham rushed for 113 yards and a score.
Next Game: vs. South Florida Dec. 1
No. 21 Rutgers (9-2, 5-1 Big East)
• The Big Ten’s latest inductee had its worst showing of the season on both sides of the ball in the loss to Pitt. The defense allowed a season-high 27 points and the offense scored a season-low six points. Rutgers has only scored a total of 16 points in last two games.
• The Rutgers offense struggled in all phases, with quarterback Gary Nova completing only 18 of 37 passes and an interception while the Scarlet Knight offense rushed for only 50 yards.
Next Game: vs. Louisville Nov. 29
South Florida (3-8, 1-5 Big East)
• The Bulls were down to their third quarterback when they took the field against the Bearcats. Freshman Matt Floyd got his first career start, going 21 for 39 for 176 yards as the USF offense struggled.
• Demetrius Murray scored South Florida’s only touchdown and led the Bulls in rushing with 68 yards.
Next Game: vs. Pittsburgh Dec. 1
Syracuse (7-5, 5-2 Big East)
• The Orange, a team known for their high-octane pass attack this year, closed out the regular season with a 260-yard rushing performance to get the win against Temple. Prince-Tyson Gulley rushed for 83 yards and a score while Adonis Ameen-Moore ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns.
• For the second game in a row, corner Keon Lyn recorded an interception, picking off two passes and returning one for his first career touchdown.
Next Game: Bowl game TBD
Temple (4-7, 2-5 Big East)
• Temple ended the year much the same way they went through the season, the Owls attempts to play solid defense and run the ball being negated by turnovers. Quarterback Clinton Granger threw two interceptions and Jalen Fitzpatrick fumbled in the loss to Syracuse.
• Montel Harris finished the day with 106 yards rushing to put his two-game total at 457 yards. Harris finishes the regular season with 1,087 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Next Game: Season complete