LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Freshman Victor Anderson ran for 176 yards and three touchdowns and Louisville raced by Kansas State 38-29 on Wednesday night.
Anderson scored on runs of 29, 56, and 27 yards as the Cardinals (2-1) overpowered the visiting Wildcats (2-1), rolling up 578 yards of total offense, including 303 on the ground.
Louisville quarterback Hunter Cantwell threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns, Doug Beaumont had nine receptions for 119 yards and the Cardinals' defense held Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman largely in check when it mattered.
Deon Murphy had a spectacular 86-yard punt return for the Wildcats, but Kansas State turned the ball over three times and had trouble solving Louisville's three-pronged rushing attack of Anderson, Brock Bolen and Bilal Powell.
While Anderson darted and dashed through the Wildcats, Bolen bulled his way to 103 yards on 23 clock-chewing carries and helped Louisville take control with the kind of dynamic offensive performance largely unseen in coach Steve Kragthorpe's short stint with the program.
If the Cardinals can find a way to build on their most complete performance under the second-year coach, better days lie ahead.
Kansas State had hoped to show it was for real after two early season wins against overmatched opponents.
Though Freeman threw for 313 yards and three scores — two to Brandon Banks — he went cold early in the second half as Louisville took command behind Cantwell and Anderson.
Cantwell hit Troy Pascley for a 13-yard score to give Louisville a 20-7 lead early in the third quarter. Murphy's twisting punt return — he ran backwards 10 yards and avoided a handful of tackles before racing up the field for the score — kept Kansas State in it, but only briefly.
Louisville needed just five plays to restore the two-touchdown lead, as Anderson broke up the middle and used a nifty spin move to zip 56 yards for a score. Anderson's final touchdown, a 27-yard burst down the left sideline, pushed the lead to 35-14.
Kansas State tried to rally, cutting it to nine on two late touchdown passes by Freeman, but Louisville's defense got one last stop with just over two minutes left to end the comeback.
Louisville trailed early, but sprang to life after a cameo appearance by former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. The Louisville native, in town to participate in several Ryder Cup festivities, drew a standing ovation when he rolled through the north end zone on a golf cart, waving to the crowd.
It helped that the Wildcats started to self-destruct. Freeman fumbled deep in Louisville territory when a shotgun snap hit his helmet. He later threw two interceptions to Louisville's Woodny Turenne.
The Cardinals rallied to take a 14-7 halftime lead, but it could have been bigger. Louisville turned the ball over on downs inside the Kansas State 10 and wide receiver Josh Chichester dropped two possible touchdowns late in the half.