With former coach Pop Warner looking on from the heavens, the Temple University Owls dodged the raindrops and hit the field at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to take on the 10th ranked and hungry for respect University of Louisville Cardinals. It was high stakes for the Cards with their undefeated streak on the line, especially considering that a win gives them their first 9-0 start in school history. That came true with a 45-17 shellacking of the Owls.
It didn’t start well. The Cardinal special teams gave up a touchdown on the opening kickoff for the first time since 1978 and took the air out of the crowd 10 seconds into the game. Louisville answered by driving the field for the equalizer and both teams traded scores for a while. The Cards did it with crisp Teddy Bridgewater passing and a tough running game. For Temple, their strength is running the ball and they piled up yards in big chunks. So much so that they should consider running the wishbone offense because they do well on the ground.
Bridgewater went to the locker room with 228 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. More importantly, his play, as well as the rest of the offense got the 12th man back into the game. That kind of energy fuels the Cards. At the opening of the second half, Louisville needed that shot. The Owl run defense played a solid game, but it still couldn’t contain the Louisville attack. The third quarter domination was emphatic with the Cards adding 14 points to the score while keeping Temple from gaining anything resembling momentum.
After that kind of performance, Bridgewater left the game to avoid injury. And even though he didn’t play the last 11 minutes, it was a career day, coming up with 324 yards and 5 touchdowns. Meanwhile the defense held the lead with Marcus Smith getting a sack and forcing a fumble. Hakeem Smith recovered another. And special teams didn’t cost Louisville the game, as it looked like it might have at the start.
Temple looked like they were uncovering a Cardinal Achilles's heel with the running yardage they piled up in the first half, but out of the locker room the Cards stiffened, made adjustments and played one of their better halves of football to end the game. Special teams remained an adventure through the entire game and will have to be shored up if the Cards expect to win by comfortable margins.
Louisville goes on the road for its next contest, heading to Syracuse next Saturday. They return to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium November 24th to conclude the home schedule by taking on Connecticut.
Photos: Louisville.com/Tim Girton