Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The 18th-ranked Louisville Cardinals did not blow a big lead this week.
Teddy Bridgewater was an efficient 25-of-29 passing for 344 yards and three touchdowns in Louisville's 34-3 victory over the South Florida Bulls on Saturday.
The Cardinals were cruising along, leading 28-7, midway through the third quarter at home against UCF last Friday night. Then the unthinkable happened. The Cardinals were unable to slow down the Knights in the second half as they fell in a 38-35 decision.
Gerald Christian, Damian Copeland and Dominique Brown both caught touchdown passes on Saturday for the Cardinals (7-1, 3-1 AAC), who racked up 485 yards of total offense. Brown also carried the ball 18 times for 125 yards.
"I like the way we competed today," said Louisville coach Charlie Strong. "Defensively we were able to get some key stops and get a touchdown on a turnover. Offensively it was great to see Teddy go 25 of 29 and then watch Dominique go rush for 100 yards.
"We can always improve. We've got an open date coming up where we can improve on our fundamentals and techniques and get ready for the next one."
Bobby Eveld completed 3-of-5 passes for 22 yards before leaving at the end of the first half with a left ankle injury for the Bulls (2-5, 2-1), who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Steven Bench connected on 4-of-12 passes for 68 yards and an interception in relief.
"We need some production from our offense," said USF coach Willie Taggart. "I think the big reason (our defense) gave up so many points is we just didn't do anything offensively. ... We gotta sustain some drives so our defense isn't out there so much."
Louisville got the ball to start the game and scored a touchdown. Brown's 32- yard run was the big play of the 90-yard drive that Copeland capped with a 20- yard TD catch.
The Bulls put three points on the board on their second possession of the contest. A roughing the passer penalty set up South Florida at the Louisville 30-yard line. The home team had to settle for a 50-yard field goal from Marvin Kloss.
The Cardinals got those three points back in the early stages of the second quarter. Senorise Perry and Brown caught passes of 32 and 14 yards, respectively, to set up a 1st-and-goal from the USF 3. Brown was stopped three straight times before John Wallace made a 19-yard field goal.
After the Bulls went three-and-out, Bridgewater threw his second touchdown pass of the first half. Christian's 69-yard TD catch made it 17-3 Louisville with over seven minutes left in the half.
Wallace made another 19-yard field goal in the third quarter.
South Florida running back Darius Tice fumbled with over 3 1/2 minutes left in the third frame. Louisville capitalized with a 14-play, 81-yard scoring drive that Brown capped with a 5-yard TD catch.
Bench was then intercepted by Charles Gaines, who returned the ball 70 yards for a touchdown.
Louisville leads the all-time series by a 6-5 margin ... The Bulls were trying for their first-ever 3-0 start to conference play in program history ... South Florida racked up just 133 yards of total offense ... Christian caught three passes for 83 yards.