TAMPA, Fla. -- Louisville successfully bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 34-3 win at South Florida on Saturday.
The 18th-ranked Cardinals lost to Central Florida last week, but quarterback Teddy Bridgewater responded and showed why he's one of the highest-rated pro prospects in the nation, completing 25 of 29 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns against the Bulls. He was sacked four times, but he stayed calm in the pocket.
"Teddy is a great quarterback and he can sense pressure," USF defensive tackle Todd Chandler said. "He knows when to get rid of the ball at the right time. He does a real good job of getting rid of the ball to the check-down receiver. He's a really good quarterback and very difficult to stop."
Bridgewater marched the Cardinals 90 yards in nine plays for a touchdown on their opening drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Damian Copeland in the back corner of the end zone.
Louisville only led 7-3 after the first quarter, but that proved to be more than enough points for the Cardinals. The Bulls failed to score an offensive touchdown for the third consecutive game, falling to 2-5 overall, 2-1 in the American Athletic Conference.
Louisville is now 7-1, 3-1 in the AAC.
"We're very pleased, but we can always improve," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. "We've got an open date coming up where we can improve on our fundamentals and technique."
At halftime, USF only had 25 total offensive yards. Its only points of the game came on a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter on a drive added by two personal foul penalties against Louisville. USF didn't cross the 100-yard mark until 10 minutes remained in the game and finished with 133, narrowly avoiding the lowest total in program history (117 vs. Pittsburgh in 2012). Louisville also tallied four sacks on the day.
"We had some good runs in there, but not enough," USF coach Willie Taggart said. "It's not consistent. We're dropping the ball. We need third-downs to get confidence and keep drives going, but we're not doing it. We've got to get better overall. I know we can get better and I know it's a work in progress right now.
By halftime, the Cardinals had extended their lead to 17-3, courtesy of a 69-yard pass to tight end Gerald Christian. It was the fourth time this season Louisville held an opponent under 100 yards in the first half.
Running back Dominique Brown, in his first start this season, rushed for 125 yards on 18 carries and also caught six passes for 61 yards, including a touchdown.
"It helped (to get off to a quick start), get some momentum and get my blood flowing early," he said. "It was a great experience (getting the start.) I had to stay humble throughout the whole process and when I got my opportunity, I had to go out there and do what I did."
Louisville's John Wallace had a pair of 19-yard field goals, with Strong twice opting to kick from the 2-yard line rather than go for more touchdowns.
USF starting quarterback Bobby Eveld was knocked out of the game late in the second quarter with a foot injury. He was 3-for-5 for 22 yards at the time. His replacement, Steven Bench, was 5-for-14 for 73 yards and an interception before being pulled from the game.
NOTES: USF was without its two leading rushers, Marcus Shaw and Michael Pierre, due to injury. ... Shaw hasn't played since Oct. 5, when he sustained a hamstring injury. ... Pierre was a late scratch. ... True freshman Darius Tice got the start in the backfield, gaining 48 yards on nine carries. ... Louisville cornerback Charles Gaines had a fourth-quarter interception, his second of the season, and returned it for a touchdown. ... USF burned freshman quarterback Mike White's redshirt, sending White into the game late in the fourth quarter. ... Former USF great Matt Grothe proposed to his girlfriend on the sideline during a timeout.