Dec. 28, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla - Louisville and Miami (Fla.), winners of a combined 20 games this season, take to the gridiron at the Citrus Bowl on Saturday for the Russell Athletic Bowl, with kickoff set for 6:50 p.m. in Orlando.
The Dec. 28 game will air on ESPN, with Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Rod Gilmore (analyst), and Quint Kessenich (sideline) calling the action. Paul Rogers (play-by-play), Craig Swabek (analyst) and Jody Demling (sideline) will announce the game on WKRD 790 AM.
Currently, the Hurricanes lead the overall series 9-1-1, but the Cardinals took the last meeting 31-7 in 2006 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
The Cardinals were selected to the Russell Athletic Bowl after a 31-24 overtime win at Cincinnati in the regular-season finale at Nippert Stadium. The win gave the Cardinals back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time in school history, and the Cardinals will try to tie a school record with their 12th win on Saturday.
With junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leading the offense, the Cardinals rank 18th in the country in passing offense at 302.9 yards per game. Bridgewater has thrown for 3,523 yards and 28 touchdowns, while completing 70.2 percent of his passes.
"You can't let him throw in rhythm, so obviously you have to get pressure on him," Miami head coach Al Golden said. "You have to change up the rotation or the looks. He'll pick you apart if you play the same coverage or if you don't put any pressure on him."
Golden added, "I think the thing about Teddy Bridgewater that he probably doesn't get enough credit for is his mechanics are tremendous. Tremendous balance, tremendous mechanics and, you know, really well taught. So he's got poise. His completion percentage to interception ratio is phenomenal, so we have to find a way to get pressure on him and we have to, you know, obviously make some plays."
Miami, which ranks No. 25 in the coaches' poll, owns a 9-3 record this season after beating Pittsburgh 41-31 on Nov. 29.
The Hurricanes have won nine games for the first time since 2009 and look to win their first bowl game since 2006.
Led by senior quarterback Stephen Morris, the Hurricanes opened the season 7-0 and climbed as high as No. 7 in the BCS rankings. Senior wide receiver Allen Hurns (1,138) is only the fourth Hurricane in program history with a 1,000-yard receiving season and needs 19 yards to set the school single-season record. Morris needs 132 yards to become only the second quarterback in Miami history with multiple 3,000-yard seasons.
"Well, you look at that team and you watch how it's just developed from the game," Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said. "It got better and better from the start of the season to the end of the season, a very physical team, done a great job at balancing the running and the passing game on offense."
On defense, the Hurricanes are allowing 415.8 yards of offense per game, but have a ball-hawking style with 18 interceptions this season.
"They are very aggressive on defense," Strong said. "And we know our hands are going to be full offensively. I will say this: In our four years that we've been here, it's the best offense our defense will match up with, the best offense that we've seen since I've been here in our four years. It's going to a good match-up for our defense. And offensively we're going to be able to control the football and we cannot give up the big play on defense."
The Cardinals move into the ACC in 2014 and are scheduled to take on the Hurricanes next season in their new league. The Cardinals are slated to return nine starters on offense and five starters on defense.