Louisville v. Rutgers: Game Analysis

Thursday night was a historic night for the Louisville program, as the Cardinals claimed their second consecutive Big East title and a trip to a BCS bowl. Cardinal Authority takes a look back at the 20-17 come-from-behind win at Rutgers.

Epic. Historic. Statement.

Those three words have been used consistently to describe Louisville's come-from-behind 20-17 win over host Rutgers on Thursday night to claim the program's second consecutive Big East Conference title and a trip to a BCS bowl.

Following a first half that seemed to indicate that a third consecutive loss was inevitable, Charlie Strong's Cardinals rallied behind one of the most inspiring individual performances in school history to defeat the Scarlet Knights.

"All season long, this football team has been a very resilient football team," said Strong. "They have come back from a lot of times that we have been down."

It's a come back that will be remembered forever. A day following the school's acceptance into the ACC, the stage couldn't have been much bigger for the youthful Cardinals. It's the type of victory that creates character, builds determination and elevates expectations.

OFFENSE

Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson faced countless hurdles in preparing for Rutgers this week. In addition to coming off the worst offensive outing of the season, Watson had to prepare two quarterbacks to face one of the best defensive units in the nation.

After unable to develop consistency during the first half, the U of L offense found it's spark when hobbled quarterback Teddy Bridgewater entered the game in the second quarter.

"You look at Teddy, with what he had to fight through with his wrist injury and his ankle, (you saw) how much this team depends on him and his leadership ability," said Strong. "We didn't know at the beginning if he would even play or not. He came up to me midway through the first quarter. I said to warm him up."

Despite his injuries, Bridgewater turned in a performance that will further bolster his future Heisman campaign. Once again, almost perfect, as he completed 20 of 28 attempts for 263 yard and 2 touchdowns.

Nine different receivers recorded a reception, led by Damian Copland's six catches. DeVante Parker and Jeremy Wright each hauled in touchdown passes.

DEFENSE

Two plays, that's about it. Rutgers found success twice, both on big pass plays. The first, an 85-yard touchdown pass on the Scarlet Knights first offensive play of the game. The second, a missed tackles allowed a short pass play to result in a 68-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter.

With the exception of those two alarming plays, the defense held the Scarlet Knights in check throughout most of the game. Rutgers managed just 9 first downs, only 284 total yards and we forced into three turnovers.

"Defensively, we were able to make plays at the right time," said Strong.

True freshman James Burgess was a standout performer, as the linebacker's fourth quarter interception helped set up the game-winning field goal drive. He also recorded four tackles, including one for a loss.

Safety Calvin Pryor led the Cardinals with 7 tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Possibly the best overall performance by the special teams unit on the season, as all phases contributed to the win.

Kicker John Wallace connected on 2 of 3 field goal attempts, including a 29-yarder with 1:41 remaining in the game to give the Cardinals a 20-17 advantage. His 20-yard field goal was the team's only first half points.

Playing on kickoff coverage, James Burgess made of the plays of the game when he forced a fumble following U of L's first touchdown of the game. The fumble was recovered by Calvin Pryor at Rutgers 20-yard line, which set up a one-play, touchdown scoring drive for the Cardinals.

OVERALL

Epic. Historic. Statement.

Three words that accurately describe the accomplishments achieved in Louisville's win over Rutgers, both on and off the field. It's a victory that finally sheds the youth tag from a squad that has struggled to reach a historic place in U of L football. It's one that signals that this team is ready to face and overcome any struggle.


Dawg Post Top Stories