Gutsy Bridgewater helps Louisville grab share of Big East title, BCS berth

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Tonight’s game between Louisville and Rutgers was jokingly dubbed the “ACC vs Big Ten Challenge” thanks to future conference affiliations, but the Cardinals came away with this year’s Big East title.

Louisville knocked off Rutgers 20-17 to grab a share of the Big East title and a likely trip to either the Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl. Rutgers and Syracuse also share the Big East title and Cincinnati can make it a four-way tie with a win over UConn this weekend. However, the BCS representative will be the Big East team with the highest ranking. That’s expected to be Louisville.

It initially appeared as though the BCS bid would go to the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers had a 14-3 lead over Louisville at the half thanks to a pair of long touchdown passes from quarterback Gary Nova to Brandon Coleman and Mark Harrison. But RU’s offense couldn’t replicate the big plays in the second half and receiver Tim Wright dropped some passes that otherwise would have gone for big plays.

And then there was Kyle Flood‘s fake field goal call that went for a touchdown, but was called back because of an ineligible player downfield. Rutgers then elected to punt instead and Louisville drove 90 yards on 14 plays to score a touchdown on the very next drive.

We noted at the beginning of the game that UL quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would not start because of wrist and ankle injuries he suffered against UConn last week, but did Bridgewater deliver a gutsy performance. Visibly hurting, Bridgewater still threw for 263 yards and a pair of scores. The sophomore was unable to step into throws causing some passes to float high, and limped off the field after every drive. Sharing playing time with Will Stein seemed like a bizarre move at the start of the game considering what was on the line, but even one play off gave Bridgewater a little relief.

Bridgewater even got a shout-out from Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

It was a gritty showing by Louisville, especially after dropping the last two games. And now the preseason Big East favorites will likely be back in the BCS for the first time since the 2007 Orange Bowl.

Will Stein starts at QB for Louisville

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Despite being banged up pretty bad in a loss to UConn last weekend, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was declared good to go against Rutgers tonight by coach Charlie Strong earlier this week.

Bridgewater may still play in the game that will decide the Big East championship, but he’s not starting. Instead, senior Will Stein took the field first for the Cardinals. ESPN reported leading up to the game that Bridgewater would not start. The sophomore has a wrist injury on his non-throwing hand.

Stein is a veteran player, but he’s only seen limited playing time this season. Why Bridgewater would play but not start given what’s on the line is a bit confusing.

The Cardinals and Scarlet Knights are still in a scoreless tie early in the game.