The Cardinals (2-0) needed the defensive plays. Following the noon kickoff, Louisville settled for a pair of field goals from John Wallace after turnovers gave the offense short fields. The Cardinals also settled for a third field goal in the third quarter despite reaching Eastern Kentucky's 4.
Bridgewater hit his first five passes to continue his strong start on the season and for his Heisman Trophy candidacy. He tossed TD passes to Damian Copeland and Gerald Christian, and two to DeVante Parker while connecting with eight different receivers. He wound up 23 of 32 with no interceptions after throwing five touchdowns with one interception in the opener.
The Cardinals never were threatened by a instate program from the Football Championship Subdivision that upset Louisville 45-21 in 1985. Louisville led 14-0 after the first quarter and 27-0 at halftime in improving to 11-3-1 in this series playing on its own field. The Cardinals wound up outgaining Eastern Kentucky 475-206 in total offense.
Now Louisville can turn its attention to a bigger in-state rival with a visit to Kentucky up next.
The Colonels, whose campus is about 100 miles away, had hopes of joining the eight FCS teams who pulled off upsets of FBS teams in the opening week. They played Louisville close in a 2010 loss in the last meeting between these teams.
But Louisville is at a much different level now than 2010 with three straight bowl games, including a win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl to cap last season. Bridgewater capped the opening drive with an 8-yard TD to Copeland, and the rout was on. The junior quarterback also hit Parker on TD passes of 19 and 42 yards and an 11-yarder to Christian.
With others promoting his candidacy with items like a "Teddy Heisman" T-shirt, Bridgewater finished up his day after his fourth TD pass with 9:08 left and a 44-7 lead before being replaced by Will Gardner to mop up.
The Cardinals missed out on a shutout in the 49-7 opening win over Ohio. They were protecting a 37-0 lead and had held Eastern Kentucky to 142 yards through three quarters when the temperature rose to the high 80s. Jared McClain drove the Colonels 87 yards, and he found Devin Borders for a 15-yard touchdown with 12:45 left.