As their former Big East basketball partners prepare to start their first season on Fox Sports 1, the football hopes for the American Athletic Conference to remain a major conference may have been dealt a final blow when Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux had a touchdown taken away and then appeared to be seriously hurt on a hit by Tim Kynard.
The AAC desperately needs “permanent” member Cincinnati to challenge Louisville for the final BCS bid before Louisville departs for the ACC, and Legaux’s 42-7 throttling of Purdue last week gave hope.
Legaux appeared to be at it again on Saturday, going 17 of 31 for 237 yards and rushing 11 times for 52 yards. He apparently crashed into the end zone early in the second half to lead the Bearcats to 17 points in less than five minutes to cut the Illinois lead to 21-17 and give the Bearcats a chance to beat consecutive Big Ten opponents.
On a fourth-and-goal, Legaux showed patience before scrambling and apparently ramming into the end zone to cut the score to 21-17 with 10:33 to go in the third quarter, but a booth review led to what the ESPN2 announcers called a “controversial” overturn, ruling that he fumbled. Announcers cut to the former Pac 10 director of officiating, and he also expressed surprise that the touchdown was disallowed.
Earlier after falling behind 21-0, Legaux had showed great patience in letting Max Morrison break free for a touchdown pass in the final seconds of the first half, and completed a couple of passes early in the second half to set up a field goal to make it 21-10.
However, after the touchdown was disallowed to keep the score at 21-10, the Illini scored to make it 28-10, and then Legaux led Cincinnati on one more touchdown drive to make it 28-17 before Tim Kynard delivered a hard, low hit that seemed to devastate Legaux’s leg as he released a pass. His teammates knelt, and the stretcher came out to take him off the field, leaving the rest of the Cincinnati season and the future status of the AAC as a major conference in doubt.
The Illini dominated the rest of the way, winning going away 45-17.