John Wallace’s 29-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining gave the University of Louisville a 20-17 win against Rutgers University and a probable Bowl Championship Series bid, the Cardinals’ first since 2007.
Louisville’s victory prevented the Scarlet Knights from winning their first outright Big East conference football title and ensures at least a three-way tie for the league title.
Rutgers (9-3) led 14-3 at halftime in last night’s game at High Point Solutions Stadium in New Brunswick, New Jersey, before Teddy Bridgewater rallied the Cardinals (10-2) by throwing a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes.
“They have a tremendous playmaker at the quarterback position,” Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. “We just weren’t able to match him in the end.”
Louisville and Rutgers both finished with 5-2 records in the Big East, good for a share of the conference title. Syracuse also is 5-2 in conference play, and Cincinnati is 4-2 with a game remaining.
Rutgers’ Gary Nova threw two long scoring passes in the first half, hitting Brandon Coleman with an 85-yard pass and connecting with Mark Harrison on a 68-yard throw to give the Scarlet Knights a 14-3 halftime advantage.
Bridgewater connected with Jeremy Wright on a 14-yard pass with 49 seconds left in the third quarter and then found DeVante Parker with a 20-yard scoring pass 16 seconds later to give the Cardinals a 17-14 lead.
Nick Borgese tied the score at 17-17 with a 38-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter for Rutgers before Wallace kicked his second three-pointer for the win.
“We were never able to swing the momentum back, and that’s my job,” Flood said.
The Big East may lose its automatic bid when the BCS adopts changes beginning with the 2014 season. Under that system, the Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 will retain automatic berths, with the sixth spot awarded to the highest-rated champion from a cluster of leagues. That “Group of Five” includes the Mountain West, Big East, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt.
Syracuse (7-5), which has finished its regular season, is mathematically alive for a possible BCS bid. Cincinnati (8-3) can win a share of the league title, though it cannot go to a BCS game.
According to the Big East website, if Cincinnati loses tomorrow, Rutgers, Syracuse and Louisville would tie for the league title, with the BCS bid going to the team with the highest ranking, most likely Louisville. If the Bearcats win, the four-way tie would be broken first by head-to-head record, eliminating Syracuse and Cincinnati, then by BCS rank, which would likely favor Louisville.