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Bridgewater shines for undefeated Cards

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - By halftime, Teddy Bridgewater had already done enough to keep Louisville undefeated.

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That's been a common theme this season.

Bridgewater has led the Cardinals to five wins, all romps. About the only challenge has been staying motivated for the second half.

No one doubts Bridgewater's talent. Not the NFL scouts who flocked to Philadelphia to watch him play and certainly not Temple. Bridgewater threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns to keep the Cardinals undefeated with a 30-7 win over the winless Owls on Saturday.

The Cardinals have won every game by at least 20 points and were coming off a 72-0 win over FIU.

Up next, a Thursday game against Rutgers, which needed three overtimes to beat SMU.

The American Athletic Conference clearly belongs to Bridgewater and the Cardinals.

But without facing the type of rugged schedule found in say, the SEC, it can be tough to judge just how good Bridgewater and the Cardinals really are.

``What everyone is saying about our schedule doesn't bother me at all because I still expect myself and this team to play a certain level,'' Bridgewater said.

Here's a scary thought. Bridgewater may be even better in big games against elite teams. Just ask Florida.

``I believe if he played even better competition, his competition level would go up,'' Cardinals defensive end Marcus Smith said.

Smith keyed a defensive effort that put the conference on notice that Bridgewater alone won't win games. Only a late touchdown in the finals seconds spoiled Louisville's bid for consecutive shutouts, a feat last accomplished by the program in 1972.

``We didn't get a shutout and it was very disappointing,'' Smith said.

The defense held the Owls to 255 yards - and gave Bridgewater plenty of shots on offense.

Still, after racing to a 24-0 halftime lead, the Cardinals managed only a pair of field goals in the second half.

``We could have played better than we played,'' coach Charlie Strong said.

The Cardinals might play against Rutgers without wide receiver DeVante Parker, who left in the first quarter with an injured right shoulder. Parker already has six touchdown catches this season and has developed into Bridgewater's go-to target. He was scheduled Sunday for an MRI.

He has hardly missed against the overmatched Owls. Bridgewater connected with 10 receivers and completed 25 of 35 passes. He threw a TD pass for the 17th straight game.

He completed 15 of his first 17 attempts, and the Owls had no way to stop him.

Watching from the sideline, Smith was awed by Bridgewater's performance.

``I used to play quarterback in high school and he does stuff that I would never think of doing,'' Smith said. ``It's a great sight to see.''

Bridgewater was at his best at the home of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. Only a junior, Bridgewater is already projected as a high first-round pick in 2014, possibly even No. 1. He insisted his focus is helping the Sugar Bowl winners win this season, and not looking beyond to the draft.

He headlines a QB class that could also includes Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Clemson's Tajh Boyd.

Those are the players Bridgewater follows as closely as any defense he studies.

``As far as level of play and execution, I follow those movements, whether it's just avoiding a sack and the doing the little things,'' he said. ``Because something they do is something I may not be doing. I may be able to copy what they're doing and apply it to my game.''

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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