PITTSBURGH — The day Charlie Strong took over at Louisville nearly three years ago, he gave a memorable, paint-peeling speech in which he told the sliding Cardinals the status quo was no longer acceptable.
After watching his 18th-ranked team slog through an unremarkable opening half Saturday against Pittsburgh, Strong reiterated the point. And just like the first time, he got the desired results.
Teddy Bridgewater hit DeVante Parker for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half to give Louisville the lead and the Cardinals pulled away for a 45-35 victory to continue their best start since 2006.
"There were some very choice words, but you have to get them going and sometime that's the only way," said Strong, a former Florida defensive coordinator.
Senorise Perry rushed for 101 yards and a career-high four touchdowns for Louisville, which ended a four-game losing streak to Pitt. Bridgewater had 304 yards passing and Parker had four receptions for 153 yards, most coming after Strong's blistering pep talk.
Perry raced 59 yards down the sideline for his final touchdown to seal it. He is the first Louisville running back to score four times in a game since Michael Bush during a triple-overtime loss to West Virginia in 2005.
Tino Sunseri passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns but Pitt couldn't complete a late rally.
NO. 20 RUTGERS 23, SYRACUSE 15: When it comes to game-changing plays against Syracuse, Rutgers linebacker Jamal Merrell might top the list.
After blocking a field goal, an extra point and forcing a game-ending fumble in a double-overtime win a year ago, Merrell stymied the Orange again, blocking a field goal to set up a go-ahead 75-yard touchdown return by Duron Harmon early in the second half to lead the host Scarlet Knights.
Big East defensive player of the year Khaseem Greene had 14 tackles, three forced fumbles, an interception and 1½ sacks for Rutgers, which is bowl eligible for the seventh time in eight years.
Harmon's score put the Scarlet Knights ahead 14-7 instead of potentially being down 10-7.
NO. 21 CINCY 49, FORDHAM 17: Deven Drane scooted 76 yards for a touchdown after picking up a fumble and Munchie Legaux threw two TDs, including a 78-yarder to Travis Kelce, to lead the host Bearcats. Cincinnati stayed perfect but the Rams, from Division I-AA, hung around for a half. The win was Cincinnati's 24th straight in nonconference games at Nippert Stadium and upped its overall winning streak to eight in a row.
TEMPLE 17, UCONN 14, OT: Brandon McManus kicked a 29-yard field goal in overtime for Temple, which trailed for most of the game. Boston College transfer Montel Harris ran 30 times for 142 yards and a touchdown for the host Owls who, on the heels of the previous week's win over USF, own consecutive Big East victories for the first time in program history. This is their first season back in the Big East, where they were perennial doormats from 1991-2004 before being kicked out. The Huskies' Chad Christen missed four field goals including a 28-yarder on UConn's OT possession. Temple's Jalen Fitzpatrick caught a 14-yard touchdown from Chris Coyer with 19 seconds left in regulation.