The Cards earned at least a share of the Big East title with their 34-24 win over South Florida Friday afternoon. The win is U of L’s first against USF on the road. The defense buckled down in the second half after the Bulls rattled off 17 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 14-point lead. A big kickoff return by Senorise Perry in the waning moments of the first half set up a 17-yard touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater to DeVante Parker to make the score 17-10. The Cards proceeded to come out of the locker room in the second half and dominate the Bulls, allowing only a touchdown on a halfback pass after a big kickoff return.
Playing without starting quarterback B.J. Daniels, the Skip Holtz‘s offense was headed by Bobby Eveld, making only his second career start. He threw for 210 yards and one touchdown. He was only intercepted once, but it was of no consequence as it was on the final play of the game. For U of L, Bridgewater threw for 241 yards and three scores without being intercepted.
Parker’s second touchdown catch with 9:38 left in the game put the Cards ahead 27-24 and Dominique Brown iced the game with his nine-yard touchdown run with just over four minutes to play. Brown led all rushers with 70 yards. Josh Chichester also had a 18-yard touchdown grab.
The Cards finish the regular season at 7-5, 5-2 in the Big East. With one of the youngest teams in the nation, Charlie Strong has his squad bowl eligible for the second straight season after Steve Kragthorpe was unable to lead the Cards to a bowl game once in his three seasons. The Cards currently sit atop the Big East and hope to return to Joe Robbie Stadium… or Dolphin Stadium… or I think it’s SunLife Stadium now… whatever the hell it’s called, for the second BCS game in program history.
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If the Cards are to attend the Orange Bowl, they’ll need a little help first. They’ll need Cincinnati to lose one of its last two games at Syracuse or at home against UConn. That’s a real possibility with starting quarterback Zach Collaros sidelined. U of L also needs West Virginia to drop one of it’s last two tonight against Pittsburgh or next week at USF.
At 7-5, the Cards are bowling, regardless. It’s comforting not being in the pool of 6-6 teams that bowl committees will be choosing from for their games as some of those teams are left out. It may be a full month or longer until we see the Cards on the gridiron again. When that time comes, the team will have a lot to prove, especially if it’s in the Orange Bowl as the ugly duckling of the BCS.