Defensively, the Bears' only break came on the second drive of the game when Nord dropped Bridgewater's pass at the back of the end zone, forcing the Cardinals to settle for Nakatani's 19-yard goal and a 3-0 lead.
Louisville broke through on the next possession, driving 70 yards in 12 plays mostly on Bridgewater's arm. He completed four of seven passes for 53 yards, including a 21-yard sideline throw to Andrell Smith, leading to Senorise Perry's 3-yard scoring run.
The Cardinals kicked it up a notch from there with a 13-play, 83-yard scoring drive capped by Bridgewater's 14-yard play-action pass in the right flat to Nord, who leaped the final five yards for the goal line. Bridgewater continued to spread the ball around but the key play was a third-down shovel pass to Charles Gaines for nine yards.
Louisville didn't allow Missouri State inside the 40 for most of the first half, and safety Calvin Pryor intercepted Glaser's deep pass at the 15.
But when Louisville didn't take advantage — a failure compounded by a personal foul when it interfered with MSU's Julian Burton as he fair-caught a punt — the Bears did. Glaser completed five consecutive passes to a trio of receivers for 57 yards, capping the 73-yard drive with a 6-yard score to Cadarrius Dotson with 51 seconds left in the half for their first — and so far, only — touchdown this season.
"I think they are very deserving of their top-(25) ranking," Missouri State Coach Terry Allen said. "Great control of the line of scrimmage defensively, which kept their offense and our defense on the field way too long in the first half."