Louisville won the toss and deferred to the second half. Rutgers elected to receive to open the game.
Louisville's win came against a Rutgers squad entering the game with a 5-1 record, marking the latest in a season the Cards have defeated a team with one loss or fewer since 2008, when Louisville took down 6-1 South Florida 24-20 in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (Oct. 25).
The Cardinals move to 3-4 all-time in BIG EAST home openers since joining the league in 2005, snapping a four-game losing streak.
Louisville has now won its conference home opener the last four seasons in which it opened league play on the road (2003-05, 2011).
The Cardinals are 4-7 all-time against the Scarlet Knights, including a 3-3 mark playing in Louisville (3-1 since joining the BIG EAST). The teams were playing on a Thursday or Friday for the seventh straight year.
Louisville moved to 7-2 when leading after the first quarter under Strong.
The triumph allowed U of L to avoid its first three-game losing streak at home since the 1997-98 seasons (five straight from Sept. 20, 1997-Sept. 5, 1998).
U of L picked up its first win at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium under Strong in a game with a final margin of eight or less. Louisville had been 0-6 over the past two seasons at PJCS in games decided by eight points or fewer, compared to 4-0 when the margin is 9+. The Cards also notched their first win under Strong when scoring fewer than 20 points (1-7).
All three of Rutgers' road games this year have been decided by three points or fewer. The Knights also lost at North Carolina and Syracuse by scores of 24-22 and 19-16 (2OT), respectively.
Friday's game was the closest in the all-time series, a series defined by high scoring and blowouts. In the previous 10 games of the series, the average margin of victory was 26.9 points (40.6-13.7).
Chris Philpott connected on a 52-yard field goal to put Louisville ahead, 10-7. The 52-yarder tied the school record with three other players. It is the longest field goal since 1989. He becomes the first Cardinal in program history to hit two field goals of at least 51 yards in the same season, and only the second behind Klaus Wilmsmeyer to do it in a career (Wilmsmeyer hit two 51-yarders and one 52-yarder).
Philpott is one of just two FBS kickers this season to boot a 50-yarder in back-to-back games, the only other being North Texas' Zach Olen. Olen was successful on a 52-yard try against Tulsa on Oct. 1 and then repeated the feat a week later against Florida Atlantic.
Philpott, Olen, David Teggart of Connecticut (52, 50, 53), and Blair Walsh of Georgia (56, 53) are the only FBS kickers with two made field goals of 51+ yards this season.
All-Time Career Field Goal Leaders
1. Art Carmody - 60
2. Nate Smith - 44
3. Ron Bell - 36
4. David Akers - 34 5. Chris Philpott - 26
6. Wilbur Summers - 24
7. Jon Hilbert - 22
7. Klaus Wilmsmeyer - 22
9. Danny Cerione - 18
10. Phil Ellis - 17
Sophomore Jeremy Wright finished with 108 yards on just 11 carries, giving him the highest yards-per-carry average (9.8) in a game for any Louisville player (minimum 10 rushes) since Bilal Powell carried 18 times for 204 yards and two touchdowns against Memphis last season. He became the Cardinals' first 100-yard rusher of the season and did it in the fewest carries since Powell also notched a 100-yard game (112) on 11 rushes against Connecticut on Sept. 26, 2008.
Fewest carries in a 100-yard rushing game, since 1987 Rushes-yards-touchdowns
1. 9-121-2 - Henry Miller at Tulane - 11.3.01
2. 10-158-1 - Eric Shelton vs. Cincinnati - 11.27.04
2. 10-137-2 - George Stripling vs. Syracuse - 11.26.05
4. 11-125-1 - Michael Bush at Cincinnati - 11.28.03
4. 11-112-1 - Bilal Powell vs. Connecticut - 9.26.08 4. 11-108-0 - Jeremy Wright vs. Rutgers - 10.21.11
7. 12-135-0 - Frank Moreau vs. Cincinnati - 10.3.98
7. 12-129-5 - Eric Shelton vs. East Carolina - 10.2.04
7. 12-128-1 - Lionel Gates vs. Miami (Fla.) - 12.18.03
7. 12-114-1 - Victor Anderson vs. Tennessee Tech - 9.6.08
7. 12-106-0 - Michael Bush vs. Cincinnati - 11.27.04
Highest single-game yards-per-carry average, since 1987 (min. 10 att.) Rushes-yards-touchdowns
1. 15.8 - Eric Shelton (10-158-1) vs. Cincinnati - 11.27.04
2. 13.7 - George Stripling (10-137-2) vs. Syracuse - 11.26.05
3. 11.4 - Michael Bush (11-125-1) at Cincinnati - 11.28.03
4. 11.3 - Bilal Powell (18-204-2) vs. Memphis - 10.9.10
4. 11.3 - Michael Bush (18-204-3) vs. Florida Atlantic - 10.1.05
6. 11.3 - Frank Moreau (12-135-0) vs. Cincinnati - 10.3.98
7. 10.8 - Eric Shelton (12-129-5) vs. East Carolina - 10.2.04
8. 10.7 - Lionel Gates (12-128-1) vs. Miami (Fla.) - 12.18.03
9. 10.3 - Kolby Smith (16-165-2) at Syracuse - 10.21.06
10. 10.2 - Bilal Powell (11-112-1) vs. Connecticut - 9.26.08
11. 9.9 - Frank Moreau (19-188-4) vs. Chattanooga - 9.11.99 12. 9.8 - Jeremy Wright (11-108-0) vs. Rutgers - 10.21.11
Wright's 29-yard run to set up the Cards' first score was the longest rushing play of the season by a member of the Louisville offense. He added a 27-yard rush in the third quarter. Philpott still holds the longest jaunt of the campaign with his 40-yarder on a fake punt in the opener.
Teddy Bridgewater hit Michaelee Harris on an 18-yard touchdown reception to put Louisville ahead, 16-7. The touchdown marked the first third-quarter TD of the season for the Cardinals (and the first points of any kind in the third quarter at home). Louisville had been outscored 20-3 in the third quarter this year coming in, but blanked the Scarlet Knights 9-0 in the period on Friday.
Bridgewater only completed 10 passes in the game, but hit seven different receivers, including six on his first six completions.
Bridgewater now has nine passes of at least 20 yards this season.
Michaelee Harris' touchdown reception was his second of the season and Teddy Bridgewater's fifth touchdown toss of the year. Harris finished the game with two receptions for 38 yards.
A total of seven true freshmen started against Rutgers (four defense, three offense).
Jamaine Brooks registered his first career tackle for loss in the second quarter. He finished the game with two total tackles.
Louisville's seven interceptions in 2011 have come from five different players who had a combined zero career picks entering the season. On Friday, Calvin Pryor (25-yard return) and Adrian Bushell both registered their first career interceptions in the first quarter.
Friday marked the first time in the last 12 seasons Louisville recorded two first-quarter interceptions in a game.
When sophomore Hakeem Smith broke up a potential touchdown pass in the end zone in the second quarter (a play promptly followed by a Rutgers missed field goal), it was already his seventh pass breakup this season. He added one more in the game. No Louisville safety has had more passes defensed (combined total of interceptions and pass breakups) in one season since 2004, when future NFL player Kerry Rhodes recorded six interceptions and nine pass breakups for 15 total passes defensed.
Smith has four passes broken up in the last two games and seven in the past five.
Smith made his 19th consecutive start in the Louisville secondary.
Senior Dexter Heyman recorded the Cardinals' third interception of the game, the second of his career. He finished the game with five tackles, giving him a career-best 52 for the season.
It is only the second time the Cardinals have had three interceptions in a BIG EAST game since joining the conference in 2005. The last time the Cardinals achieved the feat was Nov. 25, 2006, at Pittsburgh.
Louisville has now recorded two separate three-interception games in one season for the first time since 2003, when the Cards picked off South Florida and Army a trio of times in back-to-back weeks. The Louisville defense has not had three three-interception games in one year since 2000, when the squad had seven such games (a year in which the Cardinals picked off 27 passes).
After a pair of misses by San San Te in the first half, Louisville opponents have now misfired on four of their last six field goals. No opposing kicker has made a try of longer than 30 yards this year.
Today's contest marked 21-straight games without allowing 300 passing yards. The Cards have actually allowed fewer than 305 yards through the air in 32 consecutive contests dating back to the final game of the 2008 season.
Senior tight end Josh Chichester caught a pass for the 18th straight game dating back to last season. He finished the game with two receptions for 19 yards.
Dominique Brown recorded his first career rushing touchdown - and just the third of the year for U of L - to put the Cardinals ahead, 7-0, in the first quarter. He finished the game with 12 rushes for 44 yards.
Coming into the game, the turnover story for the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights could not have been more different, with Rutgers boasting the top turnover margin in the nation (+13) and Louisville holding a -4 differential through six games (96th in the FBS). Yet Louisville wasted no time turning that trend on its head on Friday night, picking off two Gary Nova passes in the first six minutes of the game and ending the contest with a +2 turnover differential.
For the third straight game, Louisville held its opponent to at least 16 points below its season scoring average. North Carolina scored just 14 after entering the game scoring 31.4 points per game, Cincinnati put up 20 points fewer than its 45.0 points per game average, and Rutgers (14 points) fell well shy of its season mark of 30.3 points per game.
Daniel Brown's sack of Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova was his first of the season.
The Louisville starting offensive line of Alex Kupper, John Miller, Mario Benavides, Jake Smith, and Ryan Kessling paved the way for 187 Louisville rushing yards, a season high and most since the Rutgers game last season, and allowed no sacks, also a first since the 2010 Rutgers contest. There was only one sack total in the game, the fewest in a Louisville contest since last season's UConn game (also one for U of L and none for the opposition).
More impressive was the fact that the sackless opponent entered the game second in the nation in that category, having gotten to the quarterback 24 times in six games.
Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu, who entered the game fourth nationally in receptions per game with 9.2, finished the contest with 10 grabs for 128 yards and a touchdown, his second consecutive game with both 10+ catches and 100+ yards. Sanu's 10 catches were the most for a Louisville opponent since fellow Scarlet Knight Kenny Britt had 173 yards and two touchdowns on 12 catches in Louisville's 41-38 win over RU on Nov. 29, 2007.
Louisville became the first team in 2011 to hold the ball longer than Rutgers, dominating the fourth quarter time of possession (11:28 to 3:32) to end the game with a TOP of 30:04. The Scarlet Knights entered the game with an average time of possession of 35:00, fourth highest in the nation.
The Cardinal special teams unit held RU to just one punt return for one yard in the game, continuing the 2011 trend of quite literally erasing the opposition's return game on punts. Through seven contests, Louisville has allowed a total of seven punt returns for two yards.
Senior Victor Anderson ran for 34 yards on seven carries in the game, leaving him just five yards shy of reaching the 2,000 yard plateau for his career. Anderson needs 164 more yards to tie Ralph Dawkins (2,159 yards from 1990-93) for 10th on Louisville's all-time rushing list.