LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater hasn't had to shake much off so far this season, but the first half of Saturday's game against bitter rival Kentucky changed that.
After feeling pressure and seeing looks he hadn't seen yet this year, the Heisman Trophy contender made the necessary halftime adjustments. He finished with 250 passing yards and a touchdown, leading the No. 7 Cardinals to a 27-13 win.
The Cardinals (3-0) didn't gash their rival's defense as many expected they would, in part because Kentucky's defense played in formations it had not played before.
"Any time you haven't seen a defense before and they change it up ... They did a great job of changing it up and mixing it up," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said.
But Strong's defense carried the weight in the first half until Bridgewater and Co. could catch up. Kentucky (1-2) had three turnovers, including a second-half interception at the Louisville 2-yard line and a first-half fumble inside Kentucky's 30-yard line.
"I felt like we had a good game plan," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "I felt like our guys were starting to play more aggressive, make them earn their yards. Had a few wrinkles here and there. I was happy with the effort, but it was disappointing we had a couple turnovers. We had our opportunities."
Running back Senorise Perry scored two touchdowns for the Cardinals, both in the second half. His first was a 1-yard punch-in two plays after he broke off a 27-yard run to set up the goal-line situation; his second was a 36-yard rush to give the Cardinals a 27-6 lead with 11:29 to play.
The Wildcats' two-quarterback system did not work as well Saturday as it did last week in a 42-7 win over Miami (Ohio), when Stoops freely exchanged Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow under center for much of the game, even in the middle of drives.
Whitlow played just two snaps in the first half Saturday, the first of which was a fumble that Louisville recovered. The other was a handoff to Ryan Timmons that went for a loss of four yards.
Whitlow took most of the fourth-quarter snaps when Smith aggravated a shoulder injury. Smith said he expects to play in the Wildcats' next game, Sept. 28 against Florida. The two quarterbacks combined for 214 passing yards.
"It all comes down to execution, and we just didn't execute. That's all," Smith said. "We had a good game plan. There were times when things were rolling a little bit, and just certain plays maybe one guy wasn't executing right. That's all it takes: one guy not to execute, whether it was me or someone else."
Louisville's offense, which had no trouble moving the ball in its first two games, struggled early against the Wildcats. On their first three drives, the Cardinals had 10 yards and no first downs.
Still, Louisville led 3-0 after a fumble recovery at the Kentucky 27-yard line set up a 36-yard field goal by John Wallace.
Kentucky tied the game on its last possession of the first quarter, a six-play drive that resulted in Joe Mansour's 37-yard field goal. Mansour, a junior, is 6-of-6 on field-goal attempts this season.
Running back Dominique Brown carried the Cardinals to their first score. He picked up six yards on a third-and-1 play with about eight minutes left in the first half, and the Cardinals went back to Brown on the next four plays, with his 22 yards putting them in the red zone for the first time.
Bridgewater then hit wide receiver DeVante Parker for a leaping 13-yard touchdown catch in double coverage for the first touchdown of the day for either team.
The Wildcats got in the end zone for the first time late in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from Whitlow to Alex Montgomery to close the score to its final 14-point gap.
Once Louisville's offense got going in the second half, it was on the shoulders of both Bridgewater and his crew of running backs. It was one of many adjustments the Cardinals made to overcome a slow start to remain undefeated early in the season.
"We learned that you have to respect your opponent," Bridgewater said. "Coming into the game, we felt that we didn't get any respect, so we pretty much learned something from UK. We're not as good as we think we are, so we learned to stay humble and respect opponents."
NOTES: The Cardinals have won the Governor's Cup, the trophy given to the Louisville-Kentucky winner, three years in a row. Kentucky leads the all-time series 14-12 and had won four straight before Louisville started its streak. ... Perry's performance was the first game with multiple rushing touchdowns for a Louisville player since Perry ran for four scores on Oct. 13, 2012, against Pittsburgh. ... With his touchdown reception, Parker became the third player in Cardinals history to have 20 career touchdown receptions. Ibn Green is the school's record holder, with 33 touchdowns from 1996 to 1999.