However, the Cardinals got their outstanding sophomore, Teddy Bridgewater, back in the second half, and his six-yard touchdown pass to Devante Parker with 21 seconds left pulled the score to 10-10 and forced overtime.
UConn sophomore Chandler Whitmer took a blow to the head in the fourth quarter from Louisville linebacker Preston Brown and gave way to last year's starter, senior Johnny McEntee, who struggled. Whitmer (7 of 21, 72 yards, one interception) did not return.
UConn coach Paul Paqauloni said that Whitmer would be further evaluated Sunday but that he thinks his junior college transfer and first-year starter might have sustained a slight concussion.
Whitmer was woozy when he left the field and he was woozy leaving the stadium, three overtime periods and a shower later. Yet, he said he will be ready to play next week in the season finale at home against Cincinnati with a shot, still, at bowl eligibility.
"I'm a little woozy but I'm all right. It's football, so," Whitmer said. "I'll be fine. I'll rest up and they'll take care of me and I'll be good."
McEntee was 2 of 7 in the game for 20 yards and a touchdown in the second overtime.
Bridgewater was planted into the turf by UConn linebacker Sio Moore late in the first half and got up favoring his left wrist, which Cardinals coach Charlie Stroing said after the game was broken.
He gave way to senior Will Stein (5 of 11, 43 yards), who started the second half.
The UConn defense had been giving fits to Bridgewater (27 of 48, 286 yards, one TD in regulation), but he gave the Huskies one before he left the game for good.
Down 10-3, he engineered an 11-play, 92-yard drive that ended with the pass to Parker.
But Bridgewater would leave again in the overtime. On a combination hit from defensive end Tim Willman and linebacker Sio Moore, Bridgewater lay on the turf holding his knee and eventually had to be helped off.
But he would return again, Willis Reed-style, for a second TD in the OT to tie the score at 20 right after McEntee found Shakim Phillips for a three-yard TD.
Bridgewater finished 30 of 53 for 331 yards and two touchdowns. He was also sacked four times.
Good Ground Game
Pasqualoni said he was impressed with way that Lyle McCombs ran. He topped the 100-yard mark for the second straight game, third time this season, and now has 800 rushing yards on the season and five touchdowns.
"I was a little worried sometimes when he started spinning," Pasqualoni said. "He spun a couple times and I worry about exposing the ball when you spin, somebody gets their helmet in there and knocks it loose. But I thought Lyle ran hard and I thought we had a couple runs up that were good for us today. We ran the ball pretty good today."
Williams Plays Big
Really good game for the defense, but senior defensive end Trevardo Williams was a monster on the outside. He had three sacks Saturday, bringing his school-record total to 30.5 with a game to go.
"We were competing and enjoying the game and he [Bridgewater] made it more fun so I went out there and just competed against him," said Williams who was wearing a boot on his right ankle.
He said he had a sprain but it wasn't serious.
That was some effort by McEntee on the touchdown pass to Phillips in the second OT. It did not look like Phillips was the first option, and although the Louisville defense had already shown McEntee that it was serious, he hung in there, read the play through and delivered the ball perfectly to Phillips.
"We ran a play-action and were looking to hit Mike Smith over the middle but there were two guys there so I just looked to Shak. He was one-on-one. He ran a great route, made a great catch."
McEntee, a walk-on, was the starter last year, leading the Huskies to a 5-7 campaign. He hasn't played very much at all since Whitmer's arrival. This was his first action since the season opener.
"It feels great. All year I've been wondering if I'm contributing anything to this team," McEntee said. "Just to be able to go in and help run the offense. I really didn't have to do much. Lyle and the line did a great job today. It was just nice to contribute for once."
Louisville's being down 10-0 at the half meant that the Huskies became the first team to shut out the explosive Cardinals in the first half since last season — a span of 15 games. … It was the second time in as many games that UConn had blanked its opponent through the first half, fourth time this season. The Huskies had Pitt down 24-0 at the break on Nov. 9 but had to hold off the Panthers, 24-17. … Nick Williams' 3-yard touchdown on an end-around was the first rushing touchdown of his career. He has scored on two punt returns this season and has kickoff return TDs to his credit as well. Saturday's touchdown extended the UConn lead to 10-0 in the second quarter. … Junior kicker Chad Christen improved to 12 of 18 on field goals with his 39-yarder with 5:28 left in the first quarter. That boot made him 5 of 5 since missing all four in one game in the 17-14 overtime loss at home to Temple on Oct.13. Interestingly enough on the 39-yarder, it hit the right upright and trickled through true. ... Before the game, Louisville athletic Tom Jurich said he hadn't heard anything regarding his school, the ACC and/or realignment. He's an honest Tom. … UConn is outscoring opponents 122-74 in the first half. They did not score in the third or fourth quarter for the sixth straight game, meaning all of their Big East games. …Redshirt freshman tackle Julian Campenni had a sack in the third quarter, the first of his career. … UConn's four third-quarter drives lasted less than five minutes combined. … UConn's last three-overtime game was in 2009 at Notre Dame, and resulted in a 33-30 Huskies win. Blidi Wreh-Wilson's pick in the third OT was his first of the season and it was big.