"The only thing I can say is when you talk about tenacity, when you talk about finish, you talk about resiliency - that's what you look at with this football team," said third-year head coach Charlie Strong.
After struggling through a first half performance that saw him complete just 41% of his passes, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had another memorable performance. The sophomore threw for 262-yards, connecting on 79% of his pass attempts, during the second half, which saw the Cardinals erase an third quarter 24-14 Bearcat lead and claim a 31-24 advantage with 2:35 remaining in regulation.
Bridgewater finished with a career high 426 passing yards.
After proving to be as reliable as Bridgewater, the U of L running game struggled to find a rhythm for a second consecutive week. There were some key runs, such as the 11-yard run by Senorise Perry when the Cardinals faced third-and-six at their own 40 yard line. The play kept a drive alive that resulted in a 13 play, 80 yard drive, capped off by an 8-yard Perry touchdown run.
Led by Jeremy Wright's 74 yards, Louisville was only able to muster 108 rushing yards.
The Cardinals receiving corp is getting better each week. Nine different receivers recorded a reception against Cincinnati, led by Damian Copeland's five. DeVante Parker and Eli Rogers both hauled in four catches..
Parkers two touchdown receptions dominate the highlights. The first ruled incomplete on the field, was overruled when replay indicated that he had control when he pulled in a 30-yard strike from Bridgewater in the back of the end zone. His second touchdown came when Bridgewater found him open for what appeared to a 10-yard gain, but Parker eluded a number of Bearcats, streaking from sideline-to-sideline, for a 64-yard touchdown.
"DeVante is a special kid," Bridgewater said. "He always steps up when his number gets called. We have to get him his touches each and every game because he has that big play ability."
The offense continues to be near perfect in the red zone, scoring on all four it's opportunities on Friday night. Louisville is now 39 of 40 red zone attempts and is tied with Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma as the nation's best.
Bridgewater was sacked three times and hurried twice.
Without the play of the defense, Louisville would no longer be among the decreasing number of FBS programs without a loss. The Cardinals defense recorded three (Keith Brown, Calvin Pryor and Terell Floyd) interceptions, including two in the first half.
"We made some adjustments to fill in the gaps," said Floyd. "We have an excellent defensive coordinator that put us in the right sports to make the right plays."
Prior to the game, Cincinnati's Muchine Legaux claimed to be the better quarterback in the game, but the Bearcat was completed less than 50% of his attempts and was intercepted three times. He was sacked once, but hurried 6 times. He was limited to just 157 passing yards. The Cardinals now rank second in the Big East by giving up only 199 passing yards per outing.
Linebackers Preston Brown and Keith Brown led the Cardinals with 13 tackles each. Junior defensive end Marcus Smith was a force along the line, recording 7 tackles, including 2 for a loss and a sack, with one quarterback hurry.
Field goal kick John Wallace continues to have an excellent season. The red shirt freshman was 2-for-3 against Cincinnati, with his only miss coming from 57 yards out at the end of the first half. He connected on a 26-yarder in the third quarter and hit a game-winning 30-yard attempt in overtime.
The only other positive was a few returns by Senorise Perry, including a best of 30 yards.
Kickoff coverage was porous, allowing the Bearcats to average 32 yards on 5 returns. Each lengthy return provided the visitors with excellent field position and put the Cardinals defense in difficult situations.
For weeks, this team's undefeated record has been compared to the 2006 Cardinals squad, but the weekend ahead presents the opportunity to do a few things that team did not. With a win over Temple, Louisville will improve to 9-0 overall and 4-0 in Big East play, two feats that the eventual 2006 Orange Bowl winning team didn't reach.
While they seem to know how to give their opponents hope, the 2012 Cardinals are a team just won't quit. It's a team that appears unstoppable when clicking, but it has yet to figure out how to remain consistent for an entire game.
You win a football game and you know you can still improve and this football team knows it," said Strong. "We're 8-0, but still we can go play so much better. We have yet to put together a 60 minute game. When is that going to happen? We need that to happen."
Louisville will host Temple at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Saturday at noon.