CINCINNATI (AP) — Teddy Bridgewater gave No. 19 Louisville a fantastic farewell to its Ohio River rivalry and its latest conference.
The elusive quarterback pulled off a couple of great escapes during a fourth-quarter rally, and the Cardinals made their farewell to the American Athletic Conference by beating Cincinnati 31-24 in overtime on Thursday night.
"Coach tells us all the time to ride the wave," said Bridgewater, who was 23 of 37 for 255 yards with three touchdowns on a wet, raw night. "We rode it. Then Cincinnati rode it for a while, but we knew we would ride it again and we did."
The comeback gave No. 15 Central Florida the first AAC title and its BCS bowl berth. Louisville (11-1, 7-1) lost only one game all season — at home to Central Florida — and that decided it.
The Bearcats (9-3, 6-2) had a very slim chance of winning the title, but that ended in overtime along with their six-game winning streak.
"You couldn't have asked for any more out of this team," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "You could tell tonight how much we've grown up."
Five things learned from the final game in a long-standing rivalry:
IT WAS SOME RIVALRY: The Cardinals and Bearcats have played since 1929, a rivalry that developed its own trophy — the Keg of Nails — and a lot of close finishes. The last two went to overtime in the rain, and Louisville won both of them. The Cardinals won 34-31 in Louisville last year, and got to keep the keg by pulling out another one on Dominique Brown's 2-yard run in overtime. Brendon Kay's fourth-down pass fell incomplete to end it. Louisville heads to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season while the Bearcats stay behind in the AAC.
BOWLS ARE LINING UP: Louisville won the last Big East title and beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl. The Cardinals were picked to win the first AAC title, but a 38-35 loss to Central Florida made the difference. Instead of a BCS bowl, they'll play in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 28. The Bearcats could be headed to the Belk Bowl.
"It was great to see this team finish the way they finished," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. "You talk about a team with a lot of resiliency and a lot of heart. There were high expectations this season."