Saturday, December 3, 2011
Final: Cincinnati 35, UConn 27
By Andrea Adelson
Cincinnati survived a serious second-half scare from UConn to hold on for a 35-27 win and clinch a share of the Big East title -- a season removed from a losing season.
Cincinnati, Louisville and West Virginia all finish as Big East co-champions. The BCS representative will be determined by the final BCS standings -- where it is almost certain West Virginia will finish as the highest-ranked team. We won't know officially until the standings are unveiled Sunday night, but No. 23 West Virginia is the only Big East team currently ranked in the Top 25.
The Bearcats jumped out to a 28-6 halftime lead but there was fight left in the Huskies in the second half. UConn quarterback Johnny McEntee played much better, and was able to find some holes in the Cincinnati secondary as he led the Huskies on a comeback. McEntee threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes -- to Mark Hinkley and Ryan Griffin. That 25-yard touchdown pass to Griffin came one play following an interception by Munchie Legaux.
Cincinnati got the ball with 5:46 remaining. All UConn needed was one stop to try and complete its comeback bid. But the Bearcats made two third-and-short conversions with runs, and they were able to ice the game despite being outscored 21-7 in the second half. Dave Teggart ended up with four field goals on the day for the Huskies, who had to play the majority of the game without backup quarterback Scott McCummings (concussion).
Legaux threw three touchdown passes, but also had two interceptions. The Bearcats were not as effective using Jordan Luallen as they were last week, as he had four catches for no yards. It was the defense that really made the difference in this game. Walter Stewart scored a touchdown after snatching the ball from McEntee in the end zone, and Drew Frey had an interception return for a touchdown.
The Bearcats had six sacks in the game, and John Hughes and Derek Wolfe were absolute terrors behind the line of scrimmage. Now Cincinnati can look forward to getting back to a bowl game, most likely the Liberty Bowl. UConn ends the season without a bowl berth, a year after representing the Big East in the BCS.