Louisville clings to Bridgewater, closing out Cincinnati rivalry

The 53rd meeting between the University of Louisville and Cincinnati football teams was probably among the best between the programs since they first faced each other in 1929.

Teddy Bridgewater may or not return next season. Whether he does or not, he will always be especially remembered for his performances in three games–the season finales against Rutgers in 2012, the last game against Cincinnati and for getting up off the ground to lead UofL past Florida in the Sugar Bowl

His heroics in leading Louisville to a 31-24 win over the Bearcats was the kind of stuff that make players legends to their fans, a giant step for programs in building tradition and pride. A matchup between two good quarterbacks this game.

UofL’s Teddy Bridgewater, running for his life all night, sacked three times, beaten and bruised, refusing to wilt. Laying flat on his back watching Damian Copeland pull in a desperation pass in the back of the end zone. Running backwards, escaping one, two, three defenders, getting must-have first downs.

The more he endured, the stronger and more determined he would become. Between all the punishment, Teddy would somehow manage to complete 23 or 37 passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Two to DaVante Parker, the other Damian Copeland, his most reliable targets, making a couple of impossible catches.

Under constant pressure, Bridgewater was forced to be creative, using the two or three seconds of his rationed time to make game-changing decisions, pulling his team from the brink again and again, somehow managing to get his tired and anguished teammates into overtime.

Cincinnati’s Brendon Kay, hobbling around on a gimpy leg, probably doesn’t even remember diving head first in the end zone, needing help to get to the sideline. Kay had a major advantage, however, the beneficiary of all kinds of protection and plenty of time to find receivers most of the game. He would complete 22 of 40 passes for 304 yards.

Kay’s performance in this game brought back memories of Bridgewater’s struggles during last year’s Rutgers game when Teddy played with hand and ankle injuries. No happy endings for Kay, however, with Bridgewater refusing to finish second best while still in a Louisville uniform.

Bridgewater was forced to be creative, using the two or three seconds of his rationed time to make game-changing decisions, pulling his team from the brink again and again, somehow managing to get his tired and anguished teammates into overtime.

Possibly the last game in the rivalry, probably the most memorable ever, one that epitomized what the series has meant to both programs.

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Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.