LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville intercepted passes on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter, the second by Terell Floyd to set up Teddy Bridgewater's 6-yard touchdown pass that clinched the Cardinals' 24-10 victory over Rutgers on Thursday night.
Defense was the story for the No. 8-ranked Cardinals (6-0, 2-0 American Athletic Conference), who had four interceptions, sacked Gary Nova eight times and held Rutgers to 12 yards rushing. Safety Calvin Pryor led Louisville's stifling effort with 14 tackles and a fourth-quarter interception in holding the Scarlet Knights to 240 yards.
The Cardinals needed that performance to offset Bridgewater's off night. The junior completed 21-of-31 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw an interception and fumbled early in the fourth.
Rutgers (4-2, 1-1) couldn't take advantage of those miscues in seeing its four-game winning streak end and losing a fourth straight time to the Cardinals, who temporarily took control of first place in the AAC.
Nova completed 19 of 39 passes for 202 yards.
Damian Copeland had career highs of eight receptions and 115 yards, and Senorise Perry ran for 104 yards and a TD on 13 carries in Louisville's 461-yard effort.
But it took pickoffs by Pryor and Floyd to help preserve a lead that was tenuous in the second half.
Bridgewater didn't have one of his sharper games. He overthrew his receivers several times, including one 5 yards out of bounds to an open Copeland in the fourth quarter that would have put the Cardinals inside the 5, and had an interception in the end zone.
Floyd's interception gave Bridgewater a chance to close strong, and he hit Eli Rogers for the clinching touchdown.
AAC extends Beef bowl deal with St. Petersburg
The American Athletic Conference extended its agreements with the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg and the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., for six years, starting in 2014.
The American also agreed to a deal to send teams to the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu in alternating years for six years, starting in 2014.
The St. Petersburg bowl has a deal to send a Big 12 team to the game three times in six years and a Conference USA team the other seasons.
The AAC will face an SEC team in Birmingham. The American is also close to announcing new bowls at Marlins Park in Miami, Boca Raton and the Bahamas.
Minnesota coach takeS leave: Coach Jerry Kill is taking an open-ended leave of absence to focus on treatment and management of his epilepsy, the university announced. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys takes over as coach. Kill had to miss the last game at Michigan when he suffered a seizure at home that morning and was unable to travel. The Gophers are off this week, but his availability for the Oct. 19 game at Northwestern is now in doubt. Kill said "this was a difficult decision but the right decision." He has had five seizures on game days.
Academies: Air Force played late Thursday against San Diego State, and Army and Navy are preparing to play their games Saturday with no interruptions from the partial government shutdown. The shutdown caused by the budget impasse in Congress caused the Defense Department to suspend athletics at the academies last week for a few days. However, the schools were able to show the Pentagon that no government funds were used for football games and all three academies played last Saturday. Army hosts Eastern Michigan. Navy is at Duke.
South Carolina: All-America defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (strained muscle in rib cage) will start if healthy this week against the Razorbacks, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. Clowney took himself out last week right before the game against Kentucky. Ward said Clowney successfully finished a second straight day of practice after missing workouts earlier in the week.