Louisville Routs Cincinnati, 70-7
As Louisville poured on the points, linebacker Brandon Johnson was hoping the Cardinals’ high-powered offense and opportunistic special teams would slow down.
No. 7 Louisville struck quickly and often, beating Cincinnati, 70-7, on Saturday at Louisville, Ky., to clinch its third Conference USA championship since 2000.
Montrell Jones caught two touchdown passes and returned a punt for a score, Eric Shelton rushed for 158 yards and Kolby Smith had three short touchdown runs for Louisville, which reached 70 points for the first time since 1955 despite having the ball for only 18 minutes 21 seconds.
“I told the guys after the game, ‘You guys don’t know anything about ball control,’ ” Johnson said. “I mean, three plays, touchdown; one play, touchdown; two plays, touchdown. But that’s how our offense plays. What are you going to do?”
Johnson was part of the problem. He returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and Tiger Jones recovered another blocked punt in the end zone for Louisville, 9-1 and 7-0 in the conference, which accepted the league champion’s automatic bid to the Liberty Bowl after the game.
“I’m excited to go to the Liberty Bowl,” Jones said of the Dec. 31 game in Memphis, Tenn. “The closer you can play to New Year’s Day, the better.”
Cincinnati (6-5, 5-3) mustered only 186 yards without senior quarterback Gino Guidugli, who sat out because of a broken bone in his throwing hand.
In other games involving Conference USA teams: DeAngelo Williams rushed for more than 200 yards for the fourth time in seven games, gaining a career-high 263 and scoring two touchdowns to lead Memphis (8-3, 5-3) to a 31-15 victory over South Florida (4-6, 3-5) at Tampa, Fla.... Freshman Richard Irvin, a former Pasadena Muir High standout making his first college start, threw his fifth touchdown pass of the game with 48 seconds left to give Tulane (5-5, 3-4) a 35-31 win over Texas Christian (5-6, 3-5) at Fort Worth.... Dustin Almond completed 10 of 14 passes and threw two touchdowns passes in a 17-point third quarter to help Southern Mississippi (6-4, 5-3) to a 26-21 victory over Alabama Birmingham (7-4, 5-3) at Hattiesburg, Miss.... Jay Davis threw three touchdown passes and North Carolina State (5-6) gave up only 140 yards in a dominating 52-14 victory over East Carolina (2-9) at Charlotte, N.C.
Paul Pinegar threw three touchdown passes and Fresno State (8-3, 5-3) set an NCAA record by scoring two touchdowns in an eight-second span in its 62-28 victory over San Jose State (2-9, 1-7) in a Western Athletic Conference game at San Jose. After Wendell Mathias scored on a two-yard run with 13:21 left in the half to make it 21-7, Jaron Fairman recovered an onside kick on the Spartan 33. Stephen Spach caught Pinegar’s pass on the next play to make it 28-7 at 13:13. Utah had the previous record with two scores in 10 seconds against Air Force in 1995.
David Greene led No. 8 Georgia (9-2) to an early lead, then returned at the end with an aching left thumb to make sure the Bulldogs held on for a 19-13 victory over Georgia Tech (6-5) at Athens, Ga. Greene injured the thumb on his throwing hand in the first quarter.... Backup quarterback Robert Lane had 205 total yards with a touchdown pass and a touchdown run to lead Mississippi (4-7, 3-5) to a 20-3 win over Mississippi State (3-8, 2-6) in a Southeastern Conference game at Oxford, Miss.... Ab Kuuan rushed for 126 yards and three touchdowns, lifting Grambling (6-5, 3-4) to a 24-13 victory over Southern (8-3, 6-1) in the Bayou Classic at New Orleans.
Sonny Cumbie, the nation’s leading passer, had a season-low 281 yards but threw for three touchdowns to lead Texas Tech (7-4, 5-3) to a 31-15 win over No. 23 Oklahoma State (7-4, 4-4) in a Big 12 Conference game at Lubbock, Texas.... Ashlan Davis extended his NCAA record with his fifth kickoff return for a touchdown this season to lead Tulsa (4-8, 2-5) to a 37-35 upset victory over No. 24 Texas El Paso (8-3, 6-2) in a WAC game at Tulsa, Okla.
Sam Hollenbach threw for 164 yards in his first college start as Maryland (5-6, 3-5) scored a 13-7 victory over Wake Forest (4-7, 1-7) in an Atlantic Coast Conference game at College Park, Md.
AROUND THE NATION
Arizona State quarterback Andrew Walter will miss the team’s bowl game after separating his right shoulder Friday in a loss to Arizona. That means the senior’s college career is over, leaving him No. 5 on the Pacific 10 list for yards passing. Arizona State is expected to play in the Holiday Bowl.