No. 25 Louisville showed why it was the overwhelming preseason choice to win the Big East in its dominant 32-14 win over Kentucky on Sunday afternoon.
So dominant, that Louisville coach Charlie Strong pulled Teddy Bridgewater at the end of the third quarter after a near flawless performance. Here are my initial impressions.
Bridgewater looked as good as Strong and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson have advertised. He had complete command of the offense and laced his passes to his receivers with precision. Bridgewater ended up going 19-of-21 for 232 yards and seemed to make all the right decisions before giving way to Will Stein. No sophomore slump to start the season, that is for sure.
He had some huge help from the vastly improved offensive line and the powerful running game, something that was missing last season. The Cardinals rushed for more than 200 yards -- more than at any time in 2011 -- on the legs of Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry. With Dominique Brown injured, Wright and Perry showed off some really powerful running, a huge key to any Strong offense. Each back ran for more than 100 yards. Wright had three touchdown runs, the most in a game since Brock Bolen against Middle Tennessee in 2008. It was also the first time Louisville had two running backs with more than 100 yards since Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson against Arkansas State in 2010.
The defense looked dominant at times, but it also gave up its share of big plays, and that is something Strong is going to want to correct. Kentucky tried to make a comeback in the second half and had several drives deep into Louisville territory but credit to the Cardinals, they came up with big plays to thwart any comeback threat.
Louisville has now won two straight over its in-state rivals, and looked to be much better shape than the Wildcats for the future.