It looked like the rivalry between between Louisville and Cincinnati would go out with a thud. Through two quarters, both offenses were sputtering, and even likely No. 1 NFL Draft pick Teddy Bridgewater was struggling to move the move the ball. But Bridgewater and Cincinnati quarterback Brendon Kay led their teams to an unforgettable fourth quarter that matched the scoring output for the first three quarters combined and forced overtime. The excitement seemed like it would not end until Louisville scored on its first possession in overtime and turned Cincinnati over on downs to secure the 31-24 win.
Taken as a whole, this was not an aesthetically pleasing performance from Bridgewater and the Louisville offense, but the quarterback came through with incredible plays when the Cardinals needed them most, reminding everyone why he is about to get paid millions upon millions of dollars. Trailing 14-10 in the fourth quarter, Bridgewater appeared to be wrapped up for a sack on 4th-and-12, but escaped long enough to scramble for 14 yards and a first down.
Three plays later, Bridgewater was once again under heavy pressure from the Bearcats' defensive front, but heaved up a 22-yard touchdown strike to Damian Copeland. When the ball left Bridgewater's hands, it looked like he might just be throwing the ball away to avoid a sack, but Copeland came down with the catch and dragged both feet through the back of the end zone to give Louisville a 17-14 lead.
Kay had an extremely forgettable first half that was marred by a pair of interceptions and an ankle injury that sent him to the locker room before halftime. But Kay came out with guns blazing in the second half, accounting for 88 yards on the Bearcats' 87-yard touchdown drive (three Tion Green rush attempts went for a total of minus-one yards). Kay capped off the touchdown drive with an effective but medically unadvisable decision to dive headlong into a pair of Cardinals who were standing between Kay and the end zone, giving Cincinnati a 14-10 lead.
Kay showed incredible toughness fighting through injury and nearly matching Bridgewater's late-game heroics with scoring drives of his own. But in the end, it wasn't quite enough. Kay's attempted pass to Anthony McClung hit the turf on 4th-and-14, and the Cardinals prevailed, proudly hoisting the Keg of Nails one last time.
Hey ACC, Louisville's bringing a Keg over. Cool? pic.twitter.com/dHscVMoKgL— SB Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) December 6, 2013
Box Score Hero: DeVante Parker caught nine passes for 104 yards, including a brilliant grab in the back of the end zone that gave Louisville its last points of regulation.
Rankings Ramifications: Louisville entered this game ranked 19th in the BCS standings. Obviously, if and how much they move up in the standings will depend heavily on what happens in the games that are played on Saturday.
But Did They Cover? Louisville opened as six-point favorites, but that spread narrowed to as little as two and a half points by kickoff. They won by seven.
Next Week's Schedule: The Keg of Nails game marks the end of the regular season for the teams, but both will be going bowling. It didn't take long for Louisville to learn where it will be spending its postseason.
Louisville announces it's officially headed to the @RussellAthBowl, as expected. Miami a likely opponent.— SB Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) December 6, 2013
Cincinnati's bowl destination is up in the air, but the Bearcats are likely headed to the Belk or Pinstripe.