CINCINNATI — Teddy Bridgewater made several great escapes to help No. 19 Louisville get to overtime, and Dominique Brown's 2-yard run gave the Cardinals a 31-24 victory over Cincinnati on Thursday night.
The comeback clinched the first American Athletic Conference title for Central Florida, which had a one-game lead over Cincinnati (9-3, 6-2) heading into the final weekend.
UCF (10-1, 7-0) finishes the regular season Saturday at SMU seeking an outright league title. If the Knights lose, they will tie Louisville for the conference title. UCF has the tiebreaker after beating the Cardinals in October.
"I'm so very happy for the football program, the fan base and all the people that have been with the program and everybody that has been involved in building this program throughout the years," UCF coach George O'Leary told the Orlando Sentinel late Thursday night. "It's great to get a BCS bowl bid.''
For the second year in a row, Ohio River rivals Louisville (11-1, 7-1) and Cincinnati went to overtime to decide who gets the Keg of Nails. The Cardinals won 34-31 in overtime in the rain in Louisville last season. This one went to overtime on a wet, raw night when Cincinnati's Tony Miliano kicked a 26-yard field goal with seven seconds left in regulation.
A pass interference penalty in the end zone set up Brown's 2-yard run to open overtime. Brendon Kay's fourth-down pass went incomplete, ending Cincinnati's first overtime game at Nippert Stadium since 2003.
Bridgewater was 23-of-37 for 255 yards with three touchdowns, two in the fourth quarter. He eluded three tacklers for a 14-yard run on fourth and 12 to keep a touchdown drive going and finished it by scrambling away from defenders and throwing an off-balance pass for a 22-yard score.
"I told my mom that I wanted to cry, but tears of joy," Bridgewater said. "I'm so proud of this team. Coach tells us all the time to ride the wave. We rode it. Then Cincinnati rode it for a while, but we knew we would ride it again."
cal: Internet video game maker Kabam agreed to a 15-year deal worth nearly $18 million for the naming rights to the field at Memorial Stadium. It will be known as "Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium."
missouri: It was unclear if Washington had reached out to Missouri's Gary Pinkel about its coaching vacancy, but Pinkel and his boss made it clear: He's not going anywhere. Pinkel was a longtime Washington offensive assistant under former Huskies legend Don James. "I coached there for 12 years, and Don James is my mentor," said Pinkel. "I'll be quite frank: I'm staying at the University of Missouri," Pinkel is under contract through 2017.
ncaa lawsuit: Tony Van Zant and Sharron Washington, who played for Missouri from 1987-91, are suing the NCAA in federal court over head injuries they suffered decades ago. Both say they suffer headaches, depression and other ailments.
cutcliffe honored: Duke's David Cutcliffe was named coach of the year by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
florida, fsu meet tonight: Host Florida and Florida State won their first-round matches in straight sets in the NCAA tournament and play at 7 tonight in the O'Connell Center. The Gators beat Jacksonville 25-19, 25-15, 25-16, and the Seminoles beat Georgia Southern 25-19, 25-20, 25-20. Florida (28-3) beat FSU (25-7) in straight sets Sept. 17. Tonight's winner advances to the Dec. 13-14 Sweet 16 in Champaign, Ill.
tampa advances: Host Tampa was among four winners as the NCAA Division II South Region tournament opened at the Bob Martinez Athletics Center. The Spartans (31-1) rolled past Kentucky State 25-16, 25-10, 25-14 and face Florida Southern at 7 tonight. Saint Leo (23-11) was eliminated by Florida Southern 29-27, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 15-11. Saint Leo's Gabby Fernandez of Tampa Prep had 10 kills and 15 digs, her fourth double double of the season. Eckerd lost to West Florida 21-25, 17-25, 25-9, 25-23, 12-15. The Tritons, who led the last set 6-1, finished 20-10. West Florida faces Rollins, which beat Palm Beach Atlantic, at 4:30 today. The final is at 7 Saturday.