Louisville beat UConn 34-20 to become bowl eligible for the second straight season under coach Charlie Strong and stay alive in the chase for a Big East championship.
The Cardinals (6-5, 4-2) have been able to turn around their season after a 2-4 start -- and humbling losses to FIU and Marshall -- behind solid defense and efficient play on offense. That was on display against the Huskies (4-6, 2-3), who had their fair share of missed opportunities and now have to win out to become bowl eligible. Dropped passes and missed open receivers were the story in this game for UConn.
An untimely penalty also cost the Huskies. After forcing Louisville to punt deep in its own territory, Kendall Reyes was flagged for running into the kicker. Louisville took advantage of the mistake. Teddy Bridgewater threw a beautiful 39-yard pass to Andrell Smith on third down, moving the ball to the UConn 10. Bridgewater ended the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to put Louisville up 21-10. The drive ended up going 95 yards, the longest of season for the Cardinals. Bridgewater added a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter to put the Cardinals up 28-10.
UConn tried to rally and cut the lead to 28-20 after a 37-yard field goal from Dave Teggart with 13 seconds left. The Huskies recovered the onside kick, but the game ended with a defensive score from Malcolm Mitchell.
Louisville's run defense played much better this week than last, holding UConn to under 100 yards rushing. The Huskies did have one big milestone in the game, as Lyle McCombs went over 1,000 yards on the season.
Now Cardinals fans are no doubt calculating the odds of getting the BCS berth. Keep this in mind: Louisville has to win out, and would have an advantage in any head-to-head tiebreaker scenario with Rutgers or West Virginia. Louisville finishes its regular season at USF next Friday.