Louisville beats Rutgers for Big East football title

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Teddy Bridgewater came off the bench to throw two third-quarter touchdown passes in 16 seconds, and John Wallace kicked a 29-yard field goal with 1:41 left to give Louisville a 20-17 victory against Rutgers and the Big East championship Thursday.

The Cardinals, (10-2, 5-2), who trailed 14-3 late in the third, will share the Big East title with Rutgers (9-3, 5-2), Syracuse and possibly Cincinnati, which faces Connecticut on Saturday. The BCS standings will be used to break the tie, and there is no doubt Louisville, with the best overall record in the conference, will be on top.

Bridgewater broke his left (nonthrowing) wrist and sprained his right ankle last week against Connecticut. Will Stein started. Bridgewater entered in the second quarter and, working exclusively out of the shotgun, went 20-for-28 for 263 yards.

"They have a tremendous playmaker," Knights coach Kyle Flood said of Bridgewater. "Some of those throws he made, I don't know if anybody else in our league can make those throws."

The key stretch came in the third. Rutgers appeared to take a 21-3 lead when a fake field goal attempt turned into a 26-yard touchdown pass by holder J.T. Tartacoff. But an illegal man downfield wiped it out, and Rutgers punted from the Louisville 31-yard line.

Bridgewater then put together a 14-play, 90-yard drive capped by Jeremy Wright's 14-yard catch that made it 14-10 with 49 seconds left in the third. The Knights fumbled the ensuing kickoff. One play later, Bridgewater hit DeVante Parker for a 20-yard touchdown and a 17-14 lead.

"It ended up a 21-point swing in a short amount of time," Flood said. "We were never able to swing the momentum back, and that's my job. I think we have a football team right now that's hurting,"

Nick Borgese's 38-yard field goal with 7:48 left tied it. But Louisville linebacker James Burgess picked off a pass that bounced off receiver Timmy Wright's hands with 3:53 left at the Rutgers 47 to set up Wallace's field goal.

More Louisville: Coach Charlie Strong denied he interviewed for the Auburn vacancy. AL.com, the website for Alabama's three major newspapers, reported late Wednesday the Tigers talked to the former Florida defensive coordinator "in the past two days." SI.com and Yahoo Sports each said it talked to Strong, who reacted angrily. "I didn't interview with Auburn," he told Yahoo. "I have a job."

Report: Mathieu to NFL: Cornerback and kick returner Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist as an LSU sophomore last season but kicked off the team before this season, will enter the draft, ESPN.com reported. The Tigers dismissed him in August after the latest in a series of failed drug tests but left the door open for him to return. He and three former teammates then were arrested in October for possession of marijuana.

Colorado: Mark Mangino, out of college football since being fired by Kansas amid an investigation of player-mistreatment accusations, took himself out of consideration for the coaching vacancy. Purdue is considering him for its vacancy, reports said.

Ga. Tech: The NCAA will grant a waiver that would allow the school to play in a bowl game if it loses Saturday's ACC title game against Florida State. A loss would leave the Yellow Jackets 6-7. Normally, teams must have a winning record to play in a bowl.

Tide fan sentenced: Alabama fan Brian Downing, found guilty of two counts of obscenity for rubbing his genitals on an unconscious LSU fan after last season's BCS title game, was sentenced to two years in prison in New Orleans.

Realignment: Conference USA confirmed reports that Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee will leave the Sun Belt for it. C-USA hopes that will happen in 2014, which would give it 13 teams, then 14 in 2015, when Old Dominion joins. Commissioner Britton Banowsky said C-USA might not be done but didn't elaborate. Media reports said C-USA was talking to Western Kentucky, in the Sun Belt, and New Mexico State, needing a home when the WAC discontinues football next year.

Louisville beats Rutgers for Big East football title 11/29/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 30, 2012 12:34am]

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