By Phil Steele
Louisville won 31-24 and thereby gave UCF the AAC crown and a BCS bid. For the 2nd year in a row the two teams went to OT. Teddy Bridgewater hit 23-37-255 and Brendon Kay 22-40-304. Cincinnati opened with an interception on the 3rd play of the game and UL went 60/4pl capped by a 36 yard td pass, 7-0. UC went 53/10pl but was intercepted at the UL5 on 3&10 from the 25. UL got 2 FD’s but punted. UC got 5 FD’s to the 27 but punted on 4&23. Two more punts. UL went 41/11pl for a 31 yard FG, 10-0 with 5:35 left in the half. UC went 70/11pl and got a 1 yard td run with 1:15 left in the half 10-7. Bridgewater was intercepted at the UC39 from about midfield with :16 left. At the half UC did have a 183-150 yard edge. In the 3Q UL punted and UC went 87/10pl for a td and the lead 14-10 (7:58). UL got 3 FD to midfield and punted. Three punts. UL went 86/13pl and on 4&12 Bridgewater appeared sacked but broke away, broke another tackle, went down the sidelines without stepping OOB for a spectacular 14 yard run for the FD. On 3&8 Bridgewater dropped back to pass, rolled away from pressure, threw to the EZ and got a 22 yard td pass to Copeland, 17-14 (8:08). It didn’t take UC long to answer. They got a 57 yard pass to McCain and a 15 yard td run for a 72/2pl drive to retake the lead, 21-17 (7:17). UL went 60/11pl and got a 4 yard td pass, 24-21 with 2:26 left but UC went 67/10pl and got a 26 yard FG with :07 left for OT. In OT UL got 1 FD and on 3&gl from the 5 pass interference gave them a FD and they got a 2 yard td run on the next play, 31-24. UC tried a reverse pass on the first play which was blown up for a 4 yard loss and on 4&14, had a pass go out of the receivers hands incomplete at the 5.
All of the talk coming into the MAC title game was Northern Illinois being the BCS buster and Jordan Lynch being a Heisman contender. The bottom line–Bowling Green outplayed them with a 574-454 yard edge and Matt Johnson hit 21-27-393 for BG while Lynch hit just 21-40-219 for NIU. Lynch did have 126 yards rushing while Johnson 33 but Johnson had Travis Greene in the backfield and he had 133 on 26 carries. TE Alex Bayer for BG had 7 rec for 124 yards including a couple of td’s where he was wide open in the EZ. Each team opened with a long drive for a td, 7-7 (9:08). BG went 67/5pl for a td, forced a punt then went 76/5pl for a 36 yard td pass, 17-7 (2:25). NIU18 went 48/9pl and got a 51 yard FG, 17-10 (14:45). BG punted and NIU went 37/6pl for a 45 yard FG to pull within 17-13. NIU executed a successful onside kick but was called for touching the ball early and had to re-kick. After the re-kick, BG started at their 12 after a penalty. BG went 88/9pl for a td, 24-13 (5:39). NIU went 34/12pl but lost 3 yards and missed a 58 yard FG (2:32). BG fumbled with 1:22 left in the half at midfield but Lynch was intercepted 3pl later with 1:05 left. BG went 51/8pl and got a 12 yard td pass with :13 left to lead 31-13 at the half and had a 389-229 yard edge. NIU opened the 3Q with a 64/7pl drive for a td. BG25 went 67/8pl but missed a 26 yard FG. NIU20 got 3 FD and missed a 44 yard FG. BG then went 39/10pl for a 52 yard FG including a 4&4 conversion on a 5 yard run to the NIU25. NIU was intercepted at the BG43 and BG returned it 37 yards to the 20. They went 20/4pl for a td, 40-20 (10:17). NIU got 2 FD and on 4&8 fired incomplete at the BG41 with 8:10 left. BG went 59/10pl and on 4&13 got a 16 yard td run by Greene, 47-20 (2:44). NIU went 79/11pl for a 2 yard garbage td with :14 left, 47-27.