Cincy beats UConn 35-27 for share of Big EastBy JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer Saturday, Dec 3, 2011
CINCINNATI (AP)—Munchie Legaux threw a career-high three touchdown passes on Saturday, and Cincinnati’s defense got two scores of its own, setting up a 35-27 victory over Connecticut that left the Bearcats one of three teams sharing the Big East title.
Although the Bearcats (9-3, 5-2) got their third title in four years, they likely will miss out on the league’s BCS bid. No. 22 West Virginia (9-3, 5-2) will get it if, as expected, the Mountaineers are the highest-ranked Big East team in the final BCS standings.
Louisville (7-5, 5-2) also shared the title and would have gotten the bid if the Bearcats had lost on Saturday. The Huskies (5-7, 3-4) didn’t have another upset in them.
UConn quarterback Johnny McEntee helped the Bearcats get off to a fast start. Lineman Walter Stewart plucked the ball from his passing hand in the end zone for Cincinnati’s first touchdown, and Drew Frey returned an interception 15 yards for a 14-0 lead.
Cincinnati led the league race before senior quarterback Zach Collaros broke his right ankle during a loss to West Virginia. Legaux, a sophomore, gave his best performance in his third collegiate start, going 15 of 35 for 217 yards.
Legaux had a 22-yard touchdown pass to Alex Chisum and a 13-yarder to Anthony McClung that made it 28-3. The second touchdown pass came at the end of a 72-yard drive in which the Bearcats converted three long third downs and a second-and-26.
McClung also had a 31-yard TD catch in the third quarter. The sophomore had career highs with 8 catches for 142 yards.
The Bearcats pulled ahead 35-12, and then withstood McEntee’s two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. McEntee finished 20 of 40 for 252 yards and was sacked six times.
They needed a win on Saturday to become bowl eligible for a fifth straight season. The Huskies were coming off a 40-22 win that knocked Rutgers out of contention for a share of the league title.
They never fully recovered from the two early turnovers for touchdowns. All the Huskies managed were field goals of 35, 46, 53 and 43 yards by Dave Teggart while they fell behind 35-12.
UConn ended the season without winning back-to-back games.
Cincinnati went to the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl in 2008-09 under Brian Kelly, but tumbled to a four-win season last year under Butch Jones. The Bearcats were in control of the race until Collaros got hurt during a loss to West Virginia on Nov. 12 that created the bottleneck at the top of the standings.
The Bearcats knew they wouldn’t get the BCS bid, but still wanted another title. Fireworks went off over the stadium and Jones got doused with icy drink from a cooler after Cincinnati ran off the final seconds of the clock with a punt.