No. 18 Louisville acquitted itself quite well in its last game before jumping to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Cardinals dominated future ACC-foe Miami, 36-9, in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Saturday night as Teddy Bridgewater threw for 447 yards and accounted for four touchdowns (one rushing).
UL finished up the season at 12-1 while Miami fell to 9-4.
Bridgewater, who could be the first quarterback selected in the next NFL draft if he chooses to make himself available, completed 35 of 45 passes and rushed for 24 yards to lead an offense that produced 527 yards. Devante Parker was Bridgewater’s prime target, catching nine passes for a 142 yards, both game highs.
The only real mistake Bridgewater made all night was letting himself get tackled for a first quarter safety as Miami jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
The Louisville defense was superb, holding the Hurricanes to 173 total yards and without an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter. Miami quarterback Stephen Morris was sacked four times and had a Cardinal defender in his face more often than not.
Miami failed to reach the 10-win mark, which it hasn’t done since 2003. At one time 7-0 and ranked in the top 6 of the polls, the ‘Canes seemed to lose interest in the season after getting crushed by Florida State. But Miami is young and Al Golden has a good nucleus to work with going forward, though finding an adequate replacement for Morris will be task No. 1 come spring.
As for Louisville, it has just matched its best season in school history. If Bridgewater leaves, there will be a major transition process, which has the potential to be rough given the move to a tougher conference in 2014. But as long as UL can keep Charlie Strong in the fold, this should be a program that continues to improve.