No. 18 Louisville gets ACC preview against Miami
Louisville and Miami will be playing for more than a trophy in
Saturday’s Russell Athletic Bowl. The matchup will also provide
both teams with a glimpse of what’s ahead.
Next season will bring the latest round of conference
realignment, and with it the 18th-ranked Cardinals’ move the
Hurricanes’ Atlantic Coast Conference. While both schools will
undergo the usual personnel changes this offseason, this is an
opportunity not lost on either side.
“That’s where we’re trying to get to,” Cardinals coach Charlie
Strong said. “We know we still have a long ways to go, but this is
going to be a measuring stick for us as we go into the ACC next
season. … We’ll just see how far we have to go.”
For the Hurricanes (9-3), just being back in a bowl has been
reason to celebrate this week. Miami is appearing in its first bowl
since 2010 after self-imposing a two-year postseason ban during an
Coach Al Golden, coaching his first bowl game at Miami, said
it’s been a week well spent as it tries to post the program’s first
bowl victory since 2006.
“Obviously we’ve been encumbered a little bit more than we would
have wanted to for the last two years,” Golden said. “But we feel
like we are moving the program forward, and we do have an
opportunity with a win (Saturday) night to be the first team in
Miami in a decade to win 10 games. Given the circumstances and the
adversity we’ve dealt with that would be a great task and
tremendous honor for our senior class.”
The Cardinals (11-1) missed out on their opportunity for a
second straight BCS bowl berth after blowing a 21-point lead in a
loss to eventual American Athletic Conference champion UCF.
Strong said the ability of his team to recover from that
disappointment showed a lot about the culture they’ve tried to
A win Saturday would give the Cardinals the school’s second
“We knew there was going to be some highs and lows this season,
but our players were able to bounce back. I think about the one
loss that we had, we didn’t let that game go beat us twice,” Strong
said. “We could have very easily let that game beat us twice, and
we didn’t. So they have a lot to be proud of.”
Cardinals junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been Strong’s
starter for 26 of the 36 victories during his tenure. Despite
seeing his numbers tail off slightly down the stretch, Bridgewater
enters the Russell Bowl still high on NFL draft boards should he
decide to come out.
Bridgewater, a Miami native, originally committed to the
Hurricanes before re-opening his recruitment after Randy Shannon’s
firing. While a victory against his hometown school could be a nice
way to end his college career, whether Saturday’s game will be his
last in a Cardinals’ uniform remains unclear.
“I feel that I’m ready, but I also feel that I’m not. It can go
either way,” he said. “You always have areas that you can improve.
Like I said, after this game I will just evaluate everything.”
Here are five things to watch in Saturday’s game:
TEDDY BALL GAME: As Bridgewater has gone, so have the Cardinals.
With 28 touchdown passes this season, he enters the game just three
shy of breaking Brian Brohm’s school record of 30.
CONTAINING TEDDY: Miami has at times been vulnerable defending
the pass, surrendering 233.4 yards per game through the air, which
ranks 71st in the country. It puts a lot on the shoulders of the
secondary and CB Tracy Howard, who leads the team with four
FLORIDA REUNION: Strong has always recruited Florida hard, and
brings a roster to Orlando that has 26 players from the Miami
RECORD BOOK WATCH: Not to be outdone, Miami QB Stephen Morris
needs just 132 yards to become only the second QB in Miami history
with multiple 3,000-yard seasons.
CARDINALS DEFENSE: Louisville features one of the nation’s top
defenses. It ranks second in total defense (257.9 yards per game),
second in rushing defense (86.3 ypg) and third in scoring defense,
allowing just 12.4 points a game.
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