LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and the No. 12 Cardinals did it again.
The sophomore quarterback threw for five touchdowns in another stellar game to help the Cardinals rally from a deficit for the sixth game in a row — albeit an early one, this time — as Louisville beat Temple 45-17 on Saturday.
"To see the game Teddy had, five touchdowns," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. "What is unbelievable about Teddy is that he is just able to find open receivers."
Louisville (9-0, 4-0 Big East) scored on five of its first six possessions. The Cardinals, off to their best start in school history, moved into a first-place tie with Rutgers.
A major reason for that is Bridgewater.
He picked the Owls apart, throwing for 324 yards on 19 of 28 passing. Louisville's offense was nearly unstoppable.
"You can't predict games like these," he said. "It just comes, and we're thankful to have this type of success."
Strong doesn't talk about the unprecedented start with his team. But the players were mindful of making history.
"Going into this week we were aware (of the record) and we were trying to make history," Bridgewater said. "We didn't want to press or anything, so we just went out and played Cardinal football."
While Bridgewater and the offense played Cardinal football from the start, Louisville's defense and special teams were slow to get going.
"The way we started off this day I didn't know if I'd be standing here saying we have a chance to go 9-0," Strong said. "Defensively, we didn't play well. We were just missing too many tackles."
Louisville allowed Temple's one-dimensional offense to take a lead twice and move the ball with ease. The Owls racked up 255 yards on the ground while completing just 6 of 16 passes for 54 yards.
"I felt like we started a little sluggish," Louisville cornerback Adrian Bushell said. "We had a lot of missed tackles. They got 150 yards on plays where we missed tackles."
Temple took a 14-7 lead on Montel Harris' 5-yard run to cap an 82-yard, 10-play drive. After Louisville went ahead 17-14, the Owls then drove 58 yards to tie the game on Brandon McManus' 34-yard field goal.
The Cardinals' special teams weren't much better than Louisville's defense.
Owls kick returner Matt Brown returned the opening kickoff for a 93-yard touchdown. The 5-foot-5 senior lit up the Cardinals' special teams for a Temple-record 227 yards on seven returns.
That gave Temple the fast start it wanted, but the Owls couldn't stop Louisville. And in the second half, the Cardinals shut down the Owls.
"They were able to run the ball effectively in the first half," Strong said. "Then you watch the second half and we come out and it's a totally different defense.
"We were able to shut down the run and actually pitch a shutout. This football team is a resilient team that always finds a way to win."
The Cardinals recovered four fumbles, three in the second half. Louisville's defensive performance led to Temple playing three different quarterbacks.
"The turnovers definitely killed us," Temple running back Montel Harris said. "They have a great offense, so we couldn't afford to make mistakes on offense."
Temple (3-5, 2-3) lost its third straight and has been outscored 127-44 during that stretch. The Owls had a lot of defensive breakdowns and mental mistakes.
"There are no talent issues," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "Those are young-guy mistakes that we've got to find a way to alleviate."
Bridgewater and the Cardinals offense had no such issues.
The quarterback spread the ball around, completing passes to nine players. Andrell Smith caught two touchdowns. Ryan Hubbell had a 72-yard TD catch and led the Cardinals with 92 receiving yards.
Jeremy Wright rushed for 100 yards on 10 carries.
"We just worked hard all week in practice and it carried over to the game," Bridgewater said.