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Miami-Florida (9-3) vs. (18) Louisville (8-4)



Saturday, December 28, 6:45 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: Teddy Bridgewater will lead the 18th-ranked Louisville Cardinals, perhaps for the last time, as they take on the Miami-Florida Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.

One slip up was the difference between a second straight BCS Bowl bid this year for Louisville, which largely lived up to its preseason billing. The Cardinals rolled to an 11-1 victory on the campaign but a 38-35 loss to UCF in mid-October dashed any hopes at a BCS or even national title shot. It is that loss that might define the season , as even though the Cardinals did not lose again after, neither did UCF, keeping Louisville from a consecutive conference title.

Dwelling on what could have been won't help now, as the Cardinals prepare for their 18th bowl appearance in program history. It is also their fourth in as many years under head coach Charlie Strong, whose success at the helm has grabbed the attention of some major programs with coaching vacancies. Strong's teams have gone 2-1 in bowl games, including the stunning 33-23 win over No. 4 Florida in the Sugar Bowl last season.

This matchup is an important one for Miami. Though the Hurricanes had records that made them bowl eligible in the past two season, a self-imposed postseason ban while the program was investigated by the NCAA kept them out. Now head coach Al Golden gets to walk the sidelines during a bowl game for the first time in his three years as Miami's head coach.

The third campaign under Golden was the best yet. The Hurricanes roared out of the gate, winning their first seven games and rising to No. 7 in the Top 25. The fun stopped there when they were routed by Florida State (41-14) and then defeated by Virginia Tech (42-24) and Duke (48-30) in the next two games. Miami recovered for wins in its last two bouts to finish the regular season at 9-3. The nine wins match the most since 2009. A win against the Cardinals would give the Hurricanes 10 wins for the first time since 2003 and first time as an ACC squad.

Even with the ban, the Hurricanes still have a longer history in the postseason than Louisville. The Hurricanes have been to 34 bowl games previously, though they have lost each of their last three.

In terms of head-to-head history, there has not been much parity between these programs. Miami has a 9-1-1 record all-time against the Cardinals. Louisville did win the last showdown, a 31-7 rout in 2006.

The Hurricanes have gradually improved offensively during Golden's three seasons and the 2013 campaign was no different. The Hurricanes ranked third in the league in total offense (446.8 ypg) after finishing fifth a year ago.

Unfortunately the loss of leading rusher Duke Johnson (920 yards, six TDs) during the Florida State game has left the Hurricanes with a bit less punch. Filling in for Johnson has been a combination of Dallas Crawford (523 yards, 12 TDs) and Gus Edwards (300 yards, four TDs). Crawford has gotten more of the work, and had been producing well in a complementary role before Johnson's injury.

Johnson's injury also made Golden shift his philosophy offensively a bit as the Hurricanes had more passing plays than rushing in three of their final four games. Benefiting from the additional work was quarterback Stephen Morris. On the season Morris has accumulated 21 touchdowns and 2,868 yards, on 58.7 percent passing. He was guilty of 12 interceptions during the regular season. However, he really stepped up down the stretch and had just a pair of picks in the four games without Johnson.

Morris' top receiving options will be good to go as Allen Hurns (60 receptions, 1,138 yards, six TDs) and Stacy Coley (30 receptions, 559 yards, seven TDs) each have a chance to build on already strong campaigns. Hurns was a second-team selection for All-ACC honors and had over 100 yards in six games, including the last four. Herb Waters (28 receptions, 406 yards, five TDs) and Clive Walford (30 receptions, 372 yards, two TDs) will also figure into the equation.

The Hurricanes have not been as impressive on the defensive side this season. It is a surprising development since Golden built up his reputation while the head coach at Temple on a defense-first mentality. This season Miami has ranked second to last in the ACC in yards allowed (415.8 ypg). Denzel Perryman (104 tackles) anchors the unit, and was the only defender on the team to be named to either the first or second All-ACC team. Tracy Howard (32 tackles, four INTs) may not have been selected, but he did help the Hurricanes create the third-most turnovers in the ACC (27).

Now, the Miami defense has to deal with Bridgewater, a test Golden has not undersold to his team at all.

"He has speed, good corps of receivers, knows how to distribute the football, doesn't make many mistakes with the football, can move in the pocket," Golden said. "It�s going to be a great challenge for our corners and safeties."

Even though he didn't get an invite to New York City as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, it would be ridiculous to say Bridgewater had a disappointing year. The Cardinals's signal caller, who is still being pegged as the No. 1 overall pick in May's NFL Draft, has thrown for 3,523 yards and 28 touchdowns this season. Golden is right about him not making mistakes as well with Bridgewater completing 70.2 percent of his pass attempts and being intercepted only four times.

Led by Bridgewater the Cardinals were the second best offensive team in the American Athletic Conference this season, averaging 453.1 yards of total offense per game.

"There is a lot of talent over here on the offensive side of the ball," Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. "We have developed an offense. We raised these kids. Last year, our defense was growing, so the offense had to take on a larger role. This year, we have done it as a team."

The most talented unit outside of quarterback has to be the receiving corps. DeVante Parker (46 receptions, 743 yards, 11 TDs) and Damian Copeland (52 receptions, 690 yards, five TDs) are two of the best pass-catchers in the country, let alone the AAC. Parker was named to the conference's first-team and even though he did not earns such honors, Copeland had 115 yards on eight receptions in the only game Parker missed. Eli Rogers (41 receptions, 498 yards, four TDs) and Gerald Christian (26 receptions, 401 yards, four TDs) are also important players.

The tandem of Dominique Brown (783 yards, eight TDs) and Senorise Perry (631 yards, six TDs) keeps the team moving on the ground. Brown is the closest thing to a feature back the Cardinals have, but sharing the load is the real game plan.

For how strong they are offensively, the Cardinals are even better on defense. They rank behind only Michigan State in total defense (257.9 ypg) and Alabama and Florida State in points allowed (12.4 ppg). Louisville placed six defenders on the All-AAC teams, highlighted by Marcus Smith (12.5 sacks) and Calvin Pryor (69 tackles, three INTs). The balance from the front to the secondary is evident with Lorenzo Mauldin (9.5 sacks) and Charles Gaines (five INTs) also putting forth impressive campaigns.

The Hurricanes' strength on defense is in the secondary, but the unit hasn't proven itself much this season. Facing Bridgewater, who hasn't been affected by much at all this season, is a monumental task indeed. Without Johnson, the Hurricanes won't have enough balance on offense to overcome Louisville's stout defense.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 31, Miami-Florida 24

12/25 09:26:33 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
Final
LOU 78
UNC 68
Final
NYR 4
CAR 1
Final
UVA 63
DUKE 69
Final
ETST 61
NCCU 59
 
Final
DEN 86
CHA 104
 
Final
ORL 93
DAL 108
Final
IND 94
SAC 99
Final
WAS 116
TOR 120
Final
DET 114
HOU 101
Final
ATL 91
PHI 85
Final
MIN 90
CLE 106
Final
MEM 85
OKC 74
Final
MIL 95
POR 88
Final
DEN 86
CHA 104
 
4th
SAN 70
LAC 86
 
2nd
GSW 24
PHO 35
 
Final
TENN 71
AUB 63
Final
CLEM 64
BC 49
Final
STJOE 75
DAVID 70
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
Final
PITT 76
ND 72
Final
STJ 75
PROV 66
Final
UNH 63
USB 48
 
Final
WVU 77
TTU 58
Final
TEMPL 55
TULA 37
Final
EMICH 69
WMICH 63
 
Final
IOWA 63
WISC 74
Final
SHU 90
XAV 82
Final
UF 57
ARK 56
Final
STET 75
LIP 73
 
Final
ILL 60
PSU 58
Final
TULSA 78
SFLA 71
Final
INDST 64
BRAD 58
 
Final
MAINE 59
GTDNS 77
 
Final
LEH 89
BU 86
 
Final
MARQ 68
BUT 72
Final
DEL 71
COC 68
 
Final
CREI 40
GEOR 67
Final
CLST 76
UWGB 62
 
Final
NEOM 65
MAST 75
 
Final
LOYC 45
ILLST 48
 
Final
KU 68
KYST 57
Final
JVU 50
KNST 51
 
Final
MSST 73
LSU 67
Final
SHU 71
MNTER 77
 
Final
VCU 55
RICH 64
Final
ISU 83
TCU 66
Final
BING 76
MLOWELL 69
 
Final
HART 46
VERM 65
 
Final
DEP 55
VILL 68
Final
WAKE 73
VT 70
Final
UGST 74
ARKST 43
 
Final
FAM 44
COOK 61
 
Final
NDAK 80
IDST 69
 
Final
ARMY 71
GHND 77
 
Final
BEL 71
TENT 53
 
Final
TXSA 57
UAB 65
Final
ILLCH 65
VALPO 70
 
Final
DRAK 70
EVAN 65
 
Final
IND 72
RUTG 64
Final
UMO 79
BST 73
 
Final
RMU 68
BRY 71
 
Final
WAGN 86
CCST 55
 
Final
GWEBB 66
CCAR 64
 
Final
MDES 92
COPST 82
 
Final
RFLSH 68
FD 63
 
Final
RIU 59
GWU 55
Final
SCAR 67
UGA 50
Final
Terriers 81
LIU 64
 
Final
PAC 71
LMU 76
 
Final
STLU 56
UMASS 60
Final
HOW 64
MRGST 48
 
Final
DREX 85
UNCW 76
 
Final
LOU 78
UNC 68
Final
MIZZ 47
MISS 67
Final
ALCOR 56
SOUTH 65
 
Final
NIOWA 70
WICHS 54
Final
JMU 65
WMARY 84
 
Final
RAD 73
WINT 66
 
Final
EILL 57
SIUE 54
 
Final
UNCA 70
CAMP 63
 
Final
MORE 57
EKENT 66
 
Final
NICST 58
INCWORD 69
 
Final
CMICH 74
OHIO 69
 
Final
TEXAM 69
VANDY 58
Final
UWMIL 78
DET 74
 
Final
UNCG 73
WCU 78
 
Final
EWASH 98
IDAHO 95
 
Final
SDKST 69
DEN 39
 
Final
SHSU 63
HOUB 52
 
Final
MVSU 75
JST 62
 
Final
TXST 63
LALAF 72
 
Final
LATU 81
MARS 57
Final
SD 72
ORU 73
 
Final
LAMON 67
SALA 61
 
Final
PVU 89
ALAAM 63
 
Final
GRAM 53
ARKPB 65
 
Final
PRIN 64
DART 53
 
Final
SCST 78
DELST 74
 
Final
COLST 80
FRES 57
Final
MINN 60
NEB 42
Final
WYO 63
NEV 55
Final
GAELS 62
PEPP 67
 
Final
NW 60
PURD 68
Final
BAY 83
TEX 60
Final
CHAT 78
CITA 73
 
Final
SMISS 62
WKENT 73
Final
CORN 57
YALE 65
 
Final
NORST 63
HAMP 60
 
Final
SAV 59
NCAT 62
 
Final
BGU 68
AKR 69
 
Final
KENT 70
ALA 55
Final
CLMB 86
BRO 65
 
7:00pm Tonight
LIB
CSOU
 
Final
LIB 62
CSOU 74
 
Final
BUCK 69
COL 71
 
Final
UVA 63
DUKE 69
Final
NE 80
ELON 61
 
Final
CHAR 70
FIU 78
Final
ODU 68
FATL 57
Final
SAMF 68
FUR 58
 
Final
DUQ 62
GMAS 53
Final
PENN 38
HARV 63
 
Final
LBSU 65
HAW 50
 
Final
BONA 56
LAS 66
Final
NAVY 65
LAF 74
 
Final
PBY 67
LONG 71
 
Final
WOFF 49
MERC 46
 
Final
ETST 61
NCCU 59
 
Final
MCNST 68
NO 61
 
Final
FLGC 74
NKENTUCKY 64
 
Final
IONA 68
PETE 61
 
Final
UNF 74
USCU 79
 
Final
LAM 84
ABCHRIST 74
 
Final
GSOUT 76
ARKLR 61
 
Final
STEPH 61
TAMCC 51
 
Final
UCR 66
CSNO 62
 
Final
SELA 73
NWST 88
 
Final
OKST 56
OKLA 64
 
Final
UNT 75
RICE 65
Final
SDU 77
USF 69
 
Final
NMU 67
SJST 41
Final
PEAY 64
SEMIZ 70
 
Final
NILL 69
TOL 80
 
Final
HOF 72
TOWS 86
 
Final
SMU 75
UCF 56
 
Final
MURST 65
TENNM 62
 
Final
SDST 62
UTST 42
Final
MIZST 52
SILL 46
 
Final
TXARL 54
TROY 55
 
Final
TXSOU 80
ALAST 65
 
Final
TENST 45
JVST 43
 
Final
WASU 89
STAN 88
 
Final
GRCN 55
CHIST 56
 
Final
UTEP 83
MTST 70
 
Final
SUTAH 60
NARZ 81
 
Final
BYU 78
SCU 57
 
Final
NMST 53
TXPA 48
 
Final
NCOL 71
WEBER 57
 
2nd
UNLV 40
AFA 34
 
2nd
UCD 30
CPSL 42
 
Half
GONZ 43
MEM 25
 
2nd
UCI 46
UCSB 36
 
2nd
SACST 36
MONT 42
 
2nd
PORST 51
MNTST 41
 
1st
UCLA 23
COL 21
 
Half
CALST 29
SEAT 29
 
1st
WLVRN 25
UMKC 23
 
Final
DET 4
NYI 1
Final
NYR 4
CAR 1
Final
WIN 2
DAL 5
Final
NJD 3
FLA 1
Final
PHI 1
TOR 0
Final
TAM 3
CLB 1
2nd
CAL 0
EDM 2
 
1st
SJS 1
CHI 0