By Bryan Stauffer
Entering Friday’s American Athletic Conference match up against divisional opponent University of Central Florida, then No. 8 Louisville was playing as good of football as anybody in the country.
They had yet to trail an opponent and were a perfect 6-0 (2-0) on the season.
Little did the Cardinals know that both of those feats would be jeopardized in a span of 4:20 late in the third quarter.
After Louisville jumped out to a 28-7 lead with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, UCF began to do the improbable.
The Knights put together three straight touchdown drives courtesy of workhorse back Storm Johnson and a few Cardinals mishaps that set up two touchdowns for the Knights.
UCF’s eventual game-tying touchdown with 30 seconds left in the third capped off a 21-point run in just under four and a half minutes. Their field goal to open the fourth quarter gave them 24 unanswered points.
For the first time all season, Louisville not only found itself fighting for its national championship life, but the scenario also gave professional scouts the opportunity to watch the potential No. 1 pick in 2014’s NFL draft, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, perform under pressure and from behind in a game.
Given Louisville’s weak strength of schedule, this was a rare chance for scouts to evaluate the Miami-native with the game, and his team’s season, on the line.
How would he react?
Down 31-28, Bridgewater led the Cardinals on a scoring drive with three minutes remaining in the game to give Louisville a four-point edge.
The ensuing outcome rested on the shoulders of Louisville’s defense, a unit that had only surrendered 44 points in its previous six games.
In just under two and a half minutes, UCF marched 75 yards and scored on quarterback Blake Bortles’ second touchdown pass of the day.
Louisville was able to reach midfield on its final drive after Bridgewater scrambled for 11 yards and completed a pass for another 15, but on the last play of the game, as time expired, his 50-yard hail mary pass fell incomplete in the endzone.
With that final pass went Louisville’s unbeaten record and its only shot at competing for a national championship.
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