Cincinnati 35, Louisville 27

Armon Binns knew it would work.

Binns alerted quarterback Zach Collaros that he could get open

against a certain Louisville defensive formation. He ran right past

a defender – just as he predicted – to catch a 62-yard touchdown

pass in the fourth quarter Friday night, sending Cincinnati past

Louisville 35-27 in the Big East opener for both schools.

Simple as throw-and-catch.

”I was just telling Zach, if he sticks it in there, I’ll go get

it,” said Binns, who ran past cornerback Bobby Burns. ”It worked

out for us.”

Collaros threw a career-high five touchdown passes – three to

Binns – and Cincinnati (3-3) overcame the loss of another receiver.

D.J. Woods left in the third quarter after banging his head on the

ground and losing his helmet on a touchdown catch.

The two-time defending Big East champions already were

short-handed at receiver with Vidal Hazelton out with a

season-ending knee injury.

”We’ve suffered through some adversity all year and there was

absolutely no panic on the sideline,” coach Butch Jones said.

Binns’ 62-yard touchdown decided a game of try-to-top-this

plays. He also scored on catches of 47 and 10 yards in the best

game of his career.

Collaros was 18 of 28 for 275 yards with a pair of

interceptions. His final throw to Binns was the clincher.

”He was telling me he can get by that corner,” Collaros said.

”I just trusted him. All day, he made plays for me.”

Bilal Powell ran for a career-high 209 yards and two touchdowns,

keeping Louisville (3-3) in the game. He had an electrifying

85-yard touchdown run that helped the Cardinals take a 24-21 lead

into halftime.

”That was an unbelievable run,” coach Charlie Strong said.

”Everyone else needs to play like him.”

The Cardinals managed only a field goal in the second half. Out

of timeouts, Louisville went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 12

with 4:20 left. Adam Froman’s pass was broken up by Camerron

Cheatham and Cincinnati ran out the clock.

Louisville also missed two field goal attempts.

”Again and again, it came down to us stopping ourselves,” said

Froman, who was 18 of 27 for 179 yards.

The Ohio River rivalry – a keg of nails goes to the winner – got

off to a raucous start and never slowed down.

Collaros rolled right and saw Woods running several yards beyond

the coverage for a 47-yard touchdown on Cincinnati’s first play. In

the end zone, Woods got a 15-yard penalty for going face-to-face

and talking trash at safety Shenard Holton – just the start of a

lot of jawing and shoving throughout.

The trick plays and big plays kept coming, too.

Louisville ranks third nationally in sacks, but a little

defensive deception set up its first touchdown. Tackle Greg Scruggs

dropped into pass coverage and picked off Collaros, who never saw

him. Scruggs’ first career interception set up Froman’s 11-yard TD


Powell’s dazzling touchdown run revved up Louisville.

A half-dozen Bearcats got their hands on Powell but couldn’t

bring him down on an 85-yard scamper that tied it at 14 late in the

first quarter. The tackle-shredding runner has three TDs of at

least 70 yards this season.

The Cardinals also emptied their play book. Froman lateraled to

receiver Doug Beaumont, who threw a pass to Froman that went for 28

yards and set up a field goal.

Nothing tricky about Cincinnati’s passing game. Receivers ran

past defenders for their big plays.

Which would carry the day, Powell or Collaros?

Powell broke a 46-yard run on his first carry in the second

half, but Collaros kept going, too. His 14-yard touchdown pass to

Woods put Cincinnati ahead 28-24. Woods’ head slammed on the ground

after a hard hit in the end zone, his helmet rolling off, and he

was slow getting up.

Woods went to the sideline, got tested for a concussion and

didn’t return, leaving it up to Binns to make the play that

mattered most.