RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Banged-up Teddy Bridgewater came off the bench to throw two-second half touchdown passes, and John Wallace kicked a 29-yard field goal with 1:41 left to send Louisville to the BCS with a 20-17 victory against Rutgers on Thursday night.
In a game between one team headed to the Big Ten and another bound for the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East handed out its second-to-last bid to a school that entered the league during its last massive rebuild in 2005 and watched its athletic program blossom.
The Cardinals will be going to the BCS for the second time, first since 2006.
Louisville (10-2, 5-2) will share this Big East title with Rutgers (9-3, 5-2), Syracuse and possibly even Cincinnati, but the BCS bid will be all theirs. 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 didn’t start a week after getting roughed up in a loss to Connecticut. He broke his left wrist and sprained his right ankle. He entered for the first time in the second quarter and finished with 263 yards passing and threw a pair of TD passes in the third quarter to wipe out a 14-3 deficit.
James Burgess picked off a pass that bounced off Timmy Wright’s hands with 3:53 left in Rutgers territory, and Bridgewater hit Andrell Smith on a slant for 30 yards to put Louisville in field goal range. Wallace booted through the short kick to give Louisville the lead.
Rutgers’ last chance ended when Gary Nova threw deep, but his receiver stopped short, and Terrell Floyd made an over the shoulder interception with 1:06 left. Nova bent over and grabbed his helmet in disgust.
The Scarlet Knights, the only team that has played in the Big East since it started playing football in 1991, probably will have only one more shot to win the conference for the first time before moving to the Big Ten.
Louisville can add one of the biggest wins in school history to an already memorable week. The Cardinals clinched a spot in the Bowl Championship Series a day after announcing they were joining the ACC.