LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Eastern Kentucky Colonels knew Teddy Bridgewater can throw the ball. They found out just how well when they tried to stop him and couldn't even slow the Louisville quarterback down.
The Colonels never sacked Bridgewater or really even disrupted the junior as eighth-ranked Louisville rolled to a 44-7 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday in a game that showed just how wide the gap between these schools has become.
"We set up different defenses based off what we know he is capable of doing," EKU linebacker Ichiro Vance said of Bridgewater. "It's a matter of alignment and assignment execution. We came ready for the run as well, but they passed for most of the game. That's Teddy's forte."
The Colonels (1-1) managed to force Louisville (2-0) to settle for three field goals by John Wallace, including one after driving to the Eastern Kentucky 4. But Louisville sacked Jared McClain four times and forced two turnovers, though the Colonels recovered two other fumbles.
Bridgewater threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns to continue his strong start on his season and Heisman Trophy candidacy. He tossed TD passes to Damian Copeland and Gerald Christian, and two to DeVante Parker while connecting with eight different receivers. He wound up 23 of 32 with no interceptions after throwing for five touchdowns with one interception in the opener.
The Cardinals never were threatened by the instate program from the Football Championship Subdivision that upset Louisville 45-21 in 1985. Louisville led 14-0 after the first quarter and 27-0 at halftime in improving to 11-3-1 in this series playing on its own field. The Cardinals wound up outgaining Eastern Kentucky 475-206 in total offense.
Now Louisville can turn its attention to a bigger in-state rival with a visit to Kentucky up next.
The Colonels, whose campus is about 100 miles away, had hopes of joining the eight FCS teams who pulled off upsets of FBS teams in the opening week. They played Louisville close in a 2010 loss in the teams' last meeting.
Louisville is at a much different level now than in 2010 with three straight bowl games, including a win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl to cap last season.
"We played a top-10 football team, and they showed it," McClain said.
Bridgewater finished the opening drive with an 8-yard TD to Copeland, and the rout was on. The junior quarterback also hit Parker on TD passes of 19 and 42 yards and an 11-yarder to Christian for his third career game with at least four TDs.
"Teddy Bridgewater is an awesome quarterback, and he has a lot of really good talent surrounding him," Vance said.
With others promoting his candidacy with items like a "Teddy Heisman" T-shirt, Bridgewater finished his day after his fourth TD pass with 9:08 left and a 44-7 lead before Will Gardner replaced him for mop-up duty. Bridgewater even tried to wave the punt team off the field on fourth-and-2 late in the first half before coach Charlie Strong told the quarterback he has enough coaches on staff.
"He can't call off the punt team, not in that situation where the ball was," Strong said.
Eastern Kentucky did win the toss at the beginning of the game only to defer to the second half, putting the ball into Bridgewater's hands.
The Cardinals had 11 tackles for loss with the Colonels losing 99 yards on run plays and finishing with 50 yards net on 42 carries. They were protecting a 37-0 lead and had held Eastern Kentucky to 142 yards through three quarters when the temperature rose to the high 80s.
McClain drove the Colonels 87 yards, and he found Devin Borders for a 15-yard touchdown with 12:45 left costing Louisville the shutout.
AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org/
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