It seems it often ends this way: the track of the last game repeats in miniature the trajectory of the season.
First quarter: beat Kentucky, lose to FIU, beat Murray State. (Ugly, but the Cards come out of the quarter with a 3-0 lead).
Second quarter: lose to Marshall, lose to North Carolina, lose to Cincinnati. Downright ugly. A string of missed opportunities put the Cardinals in a deep hole. (In the USF game, the Cards deviated a little by salvaging the last-minute TD that changed the momentum of the game, but I'll just say they started the third quarter 35 seconds early.)
Second half: beat Rutgers, beat Syracuse, beat West Virginia; then with the situation seemingly well in hand, lose to Pittsburgh before pulling out the win against UConn to get bowl eigible. (Back and forth, regain and surrender the lead before getting it back) FInally, beat USF to clinch a share of the Big East title. Icing on the cake! (The final score to put the Cards up by 10 and the game out of reach.)
We had our ups and downs in this season and this game, as such a young team will; but we wound up defying the predictions that had us finishing 7th of 8 (and those that had us losing to USF in the final game) and clinching in the end at least a share of the Big East championship.
If we ultimately get to the Orange Bowl, we will likely face a BCS #5 Virginia Tech team that might or might not embarrass us in our second-ever BCS bowl appearance; but I'll take that chance. With this scrappy bunch, nothing is impossible. In any event, they've made this up-and-down season, like they made this up-and-down game, one to remember.