Rutgers was up 14-3 at half after Nova hooked up with his big receivers for two long TD passes — an 85-yarder to Brandon Coleman and a 68-yard play by Mark Harrison. Nova finished 13 for 28 for 284 yards.
The Scarlet Knights were poised for another big play in the third quarter when a fake field goal turned into a touchdown pass from holder J.T. Tartacoff to D.C. Jefferson. It would have made the score 21-3, but an illegal man down field penalty wiped out the play and Rutgers punted from the Louisville 31.
Everything changed from there.
Bridgewater and the Cardinals put together a 90-yard drive that took 14 plays and nearly eight minutes and cut the lead to 14-10 when the quarterback flipped a pass to Jeremy Wright, who scooted 14 yards for a touchdown.
The Cardinals needed only 16 more seconds to take the lead.
Burgess stuck kick returner Jeremy Deering in the chest, forcing a fumble recovered by Calvin Pryor. Bridgewater went right to work, floating a perfect deep ball to DeVante Parker for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
Just like that, it was 17-14 and Scarlet Knights fans fell silent.
"It's kind of a 21-point swing in a very short amount of time, and we were never able to swing the momentum back, and that's my job," Flood said.
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. The Scarlet Knights are likely headed to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, still searching for their first BCS bid.
"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.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap
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