Teddy Bridgewater and No. 8 Louisville held on against heavy underdog Rutgers on Thursday, but Bridgewater's Heisman chances took a hit, as did the Cardinals' national championship aspirations.
Louisville won, 24-10, at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Kentucky, but it's not going to be enough to hold off the critics.
It was clear it was all about Bridgewater from the start on Thursday.
Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com tweeted:
Jesse Palmer says there are 26 NFL scouts in attendance to see Louisville-Rutgers tonight (Teddy Bridgewater show).— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) October 10, 2013
In a low-scoring game, Louisville struck first, as the Cardinals drove 65 yards on 11 plays, capped off by a 24-yard field goal by John Wallace.
After Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova was intercepted at the start of the second quarter, and Bridgewater connected on a 34-yard touchdown with Kai De La Cruz to put the Cardinals ahead 10-0.
On Louisville's next drive, Bridgewater and running back Senorise Perry led the Cardinals on a seven-play, 80-yard drive, capped off by Perry's one-yard touchdown run. With 12:32 remaining in the second quarter, Louisville had a 17-0 lead.
That's when things got interesting.
Rutgers scored on its next drive, going 70 yards in 11 plays and Nova scored on a one-yard touchdown run.
Then, near the end of the third quarter, Perry lost a fumble, giving the ball to Rutgers on the Louisville 36-yard line. Kyle Federico then kicked a 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to close the gap, 17-10.
Bridgewater and the Cardinals were in Scarlet Knights territory early in the final quarter, but Bridgewater was sacked by Anthony Cloffi and fumbled the pigskin away.
But on Rutgers' ensuing drive, Nova threw a pick. He rinsed and repeated on the Scarlet Knights' next drive.
Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports made an observation about Nova's performance:
Gary Nova airmails that pass down middle for another pick. Louisville keeps giving Rutgers chances, and Nova keeps returning to sender.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) October 11, 2013
Nova finished 19-of-36 for 202 yards with one touchdown to four interceptions.
Louisville held on for the win, but Bridgewater can likely kiss his Heisman hopes goodbye.
As BCS Guru noted:
Take this to the bank: Bridgewater will not win the Heisman. Louisville will not play for BCS title. Neither is unjust.— BCS Guru (@BCSGuru) October 11, 2013
Bridgewater finished 21-of-31 for 310 yards and two touchdowns, but he also added one interception and one fumble.
Louisville committed three total turnovers in the win, which ended up making the game a lot closer than expected. Rutgers allowed 52 points to SMU just five days ago.
Barring a miracle, Louisville probably isn't headed to the national championship game this season, undefeated record or not.