LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Zach Collaros threw a career-high five touchdown passes — three to Armon Binns — and Cincinnati overcame the loss of another receiver Friday night, beating Louisville 35-27 in its Big East opener.
The two-time defending champs lost receiver D.J. Woods to a concussion after his second touchdown catch in the third quarter. Cincinnati (3-3) already was short-handed at receiver with Vidal Hazelton's season-ending knee injury.
Binns' 62-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter 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.
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.
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.
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 pass.
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.
Binns made the final big play, beating cornerback Bobby Burns for his 62-yard catch.