Louisville moved into a tie for first place in the BIG EAST standings Saturday, setting stage for what figures to be an exciting home stretch of the 2012 regular season.
Louisville is 9-0 for the first time in program history and off to its first 4-0 start in BIG EAST play after a 45-17 win against Temple at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Louisville found itself in an early hole, trailing 14-7 in the first quarter, but the Cardinals outscored the Owls 38-3 the rest of the way.
QB Teddy Bridgewater remained sharp for Louisville as he threw for 324 yards and a career-high five touchdowns, distributing his 22 completions among nine receivers. RB Jeremy Wright rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown, while the Cardinals recovered four fumbles on defense.
Temple saw RB Matt Brown return the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and had RB Montel Harris rush for 115 yards and a TD. But the Owls were saddled with their first three-game losing streak since the 2008 season with the loss, falling to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in BIG EAST play.
Cincinnati jumped ahead of Syracuse in the BIG EAST standings by virtue of the Bearcats’ 35-24 win against the Orange at Nippert Stadium. The victory lifted Cincinnati to 2-1 in BIG EAST play and made the Bearcats bowl-eligible at 6-2 overall.
RB George Winn was the story for Cincinnati as he rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns and threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to TE Travis Kelce — one of Kelce’s two scores on the day. QB Brendon Kay came off the bench to complete all three of his passes, including a touchdown throw in the third quarter that gave Cincinnati the lead for good.
Syracuse fell to fourth place in the BIG EAST standings as the Orange sit at 3-2 in league play, 4-5 overall. RB Jerome Smith turned in his third straight 100-yard game for the Orange as he rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown.
USF picked up its first BIG EAST win and ended a six-game slide with a 13-6 victory against Connecticut at Raymond James Stadium. The Bulls, who entered the game as the only FBS team nationally without an interception, came up with two fourth-quarter picks, allowing two field goals by K Maikon Bonani in the fourth quarter to provide the winning margin.
The loss was costly for USF, however, as QB B.J. Daniels suffered what appeared to be a season-ending ankle injury. Daniels, who ranks third in BIG EAST history in total offense (10,501 yards), threw for 199 yards against the Huskies before leaving the game. USF improved to 3-6 overall and 1-4 in BIG EAST play.
Connecticut (3-6, 0-4 BIG EAST) dropped its fourth straight despite holding the Bulls to 283 yards of offense. QB Chandler Whitmer threw for 284 yards for the Huskies.
The lone nonconference game of the day saw Pittsburgh take Notre Dame —ranked No. 3 in the BCS standings — to the wire before the Irish escaped with a 29-26 triple-overtime win at Notre Dame Stadium. The Panthers built a 20-6 lead in the fourth quarter, thanks to a 172-yard effort by RB Ray Graham, but the Irish rallied for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and got the win on a 1-yard touchdown run in the third overtime period. Pittsburgh fell to 4-5 overall.