Louisville got the game started at its own 8 yard-line because of a penalty, but it didn't slow their attacking pace. Freshman Teddy Bridgewater wet to the air twice in the next four plays, and it was enough to move the Cardinals down the field. A zone-coverage breakdown led to a 44-yard completion to Michalee Harris. Two plays later, Bridgewater connected with DeVante Parker for aback-shoulder, 42-yard touchdown, as he beat Keon Lyn's man-coverage.
The Cardinals were poised to score again after an SU three-and-out, but what looked like a 27-yard TD to Harris was nullified by a holding penalty. Two plays later, Marquis Spruill – who was held on the would-be score – forced a fumble after a screen pass was completed to Dominique Brown. However, Syracuse could not capitalize and it went three-and-out for a second straight possession.
Bridgewater took to the air again, completing a 21-yard screen pass to Harris to set up the Cardinal running game. Jeremy Wright powered down to the Syracuse 2, and 6-foot-8 Josh Chichester hauled in a score over the smaller Olando Fisher. A play earlier, it seemed as if Phillip Thomas recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown but coach Doug Marrone called a timeout before the play.
Down 14-0, Ryan Nassib took to the air. He connected with Dorian Graham for the team's initial first down as the opening quarter came to a close. After another first down, this time to Nick Provo, Antwon Bailey got into the act with a 14-yard run. However, the drive stalled after Nassib misfired on second down and took a sack on the next play to put the team out of Ross Krautman's field goal range.
After the defense shut down a promising Louisville drive, the running game got going. Bailey broke one for 29 yards and Graham took a reverse for 18. However, Nassib's pass to Van Chew on third went just short of the first down. Marrone contemplated going for it on 4th-and-1, but called a timeout. In a surprise move, the offense came back to the field anyway. Jerome Smith plunged for the conversion soon after. The drive then fluttered, and Ross Krautman got SU on the board with a 34-yard field goal.
Louisville put a decent drive together – aided by the eighth SU penalty of the first half – but Chandler Jones put a wrench in the plans with a big sack on a second down that killed the momentum. Time ran out in the half shortly after.