"They have a tremendous playmaker at the quarterback position," Flood said. "We just weren't able to match him in the end."
Rutgers' last chance ended when Nova threw deep, but his receiver stopped short. Terrell Floyd made an over the shoulder interception with 1:06 left. Nova bent over and grabbed his helmet in disgust.
The Scarlet Knights, the only team that has played in the Big East since it started playing football in 1991, probably will have only one more shot to win the conference for the first time before moving to the Big Ten.
Louisville can add one of the biggest wins in school history to an already memorable week for the school, which was in Conference USA just eight years ago. On Wednesday, Louisville announced it was joining the ACC after at least one more season in the Big East.
Nova's other big touchdown pass was an 85-yarder to Brandon Coleman on Rutgers' first play from scrimmage. He finished 13 for 28 for 284 yards.
The penalty on the fake field goal changed the momentum and Bridgewater took over.
"It ended up a 21-point swing in a very short amount of time," Flood said. "We were never able to swing the momentum back, and that's my job."
Bridgewater had the Cardinals on the move again in the fourth quarter when a high pass bounced off the hands of Eli Rogers and into the arms of Rutgers' Lorenzo Waters, who returned the interception to the Louisville 42.
The Scarlet Knights turned the turnover into Nick Borgese's tying 38-yard field goal with 7:48 left.
Fans waved white towels, and AC/DC blared from the loud speakers. But that was the last big play Rutgers could muster.
"I think we have a football team right now that's hurting," Flood said.
Louisville ended up tossing oranges in the air when it was over and exchanging high-fives with a small group of its fans in a corner of the stadium.
The Cardinals might end up in New Orleans instead of Miami, depending on how the rest of championship weekend plays out. Surely, they will be fine with either.