Louisville improved to 3-0 while defeating Kentucky for the third consecutive time Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- The questions were surging. The University of Louisville was not, especially on offense.
A punt punctuated the Cardinals first drive. Then a field goal. Another punt. A fumble. Two more punts. Six Louisville drives. Three Louisville points.
What was going on in Commonwealth Stadium Saturday? Kentucky was changing defenses on every snap and the Cardinals looked as if there were trying to block 15 guys.
With less than three minutes to play in the first half, a Louisville football team that was averaging nearly 47 points per game had three against Kentucky.
As in UK 3, Louisville 3.
What was wrong?
It doesn't matter. Louisville figured it out, overwhelming the Wildcats in the second half for a 27-13 victory, the Cards' third straight win in the Governor's Cup series and fourth consecutive win over an opponent from the Southeastern Conference.
The offensive line started roaring off the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater returned to his basic poised and efficient style of spraying the football to all of his receivers. The defense did not let Kentucky puncture the end zone until the final seven minutes of the game.
On a day when the Cards were supposed to win by 14 ½, they won by 14.
Bridgewater completed 16 of 28 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown. He did not throw an interception, finishing with a quarterback rating of 143.9.
Louisville outgained Kentucky, 492-376, and the Cards showed remarkable balance, rushing for 242 yards and passing for 250.
Will it be enough to satisfy the skeptics and the voters in the writers' and coaches' polls?
Coach Charlie Strong has not been thrilled with the Louisville running game. So he made a change. Michael Dyer, the transfer from Auburn, drew his first career start against the Wildcats.
That was not the answer. Dyer carried the ball six times for 14 yards in the first half. That's an average of 2.3 yards per carry, which is less than Louisville averaged against Eastern Kentucky.
Strong kept shuffling his backs. Senorise Perry got the second call. And by the middle of the second quarter, Strong had returned to Dominique Brown, who was the first Cardinal back to knock tacklers down and push the pile.
Perry had the most productive game, scoring from one yard in the third quarter and another touchdown from 36 yards in the fourth.
Perry led Louisville with 11 carries for 100 yards. Dyer also carried the ball 11 times for 62 yards.
KENTUCKY QUARTERBACK REVOLVING DOOR
Maxwell Smith earned the start for Kentucky again. But offensive coordinator Neal Brown still worked Jalen Whitlow into the lineup.
In the beginning, it was for a change up pace. In the end, it was because Smith left the game in the third quarter with pain in his right (throwing) shoulder after taking a hit from U of L defensive end Marcus Smith.
Whitlow struggled. He fumbled on a third-and-one running play in the first quarter and later threw an interception at the Louisville 2-yardline midway through the third quarter.
Smith did not return to the game after the injury. It's the third consecutive season Smith has been injured.
Smith finished 9 for 20 for 109 yards. Whitlow completed 7 of 13 for 94 yards. He also ran for 35. Whitlow threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Alex Montgomery in the fourth quarter.
Louisville failed to score a touchdown for the first 27-plus minutes. Even first downs were difficult to collect, two in the first quarter. The Cardinals' running game was not moving the chains. Teddy Bridgewater was taking hits.
The Cards were unable to lead by as much as a touchdown until DeVante Parker made a remarkable leaping catch on the left edge of the end zone with 2:36 to play in the first half.
That's all it took for Twitter to explode with a string of cracks questioning Louisville's spot as a national championship contender.
A sample: "It's pretty clear that Louisville would finish 14th in the SEC," from @SolidVerbal.
"Teddy, I suggest you update the resume on this drive," from Bill King, host of On Campus with Bill King on Sirius/XM radio.
There were others. But you get the picture. Patience is not of primary importance in the world of social media.
A VOTE – OR TWO – FOR TEDDY
Even before the game former quarterbacks from both schools were delivering praise for Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater.
Freddie Maggard, who played at Kentucky, said that Bridgewater reminded him of a young Drew Brees. He said Bridgewater was the finest opposing quarterback to play in Commonwealth Stadium since the Manning Brothers (Eli for Ole Miss and Peyton for Tennessee).
Chris Redman, the former Card, did not disagree. Redman who retired from the NFL last season, said that he believes that Bridgewater will be the first pick in the 2014 NFL.
"I could definitely see Jacksonville taking him," Redman said. "And that would be great for him to get back closer to home in Florida. He's just a tremendous quarterback. He can make all the throws."
Saturday was Redman's debut as the analyst on the U of L radio network, working with Paul Rogers. He replaced Joe Tronzo, who joined the football staff at St. Xavier High School, his alma mater.
Will Redman continue in that role?
"I'm not sure yet," he said. Redman said he just started a new job with a pharmaceutical company and needed to consult with his new bosses.
Kentucky is a spectator next weekend. The Wildcats return to Commonwealth Stadium Sept. 28 when Florida visits. Louisville returns home. The Cards play Florida International at noon on Sept. 21. The Panthers lost their first two games. The Cards won at FIU last season, but FIU upset Louisville at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 2011.