Quarterback guides Louisville to rout of Miami
ORLANDO, Fla. – Leading up to the Russell Athletic Bowl, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater batted back questions about whether the game would be his last in college.
If it was, he left plenty for the Cardinals to remember.
Bridgewater threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score to help No. 18 Louisville rout Miami 36-9 on Saturday night.
The Cardinals (12-1) spotted Miami (9-4) an early 2-0 lead, then dominated the rest of the way, racking up 554 total yards to the Hurricanes’ 174.
With Cardinals’ fans chanting “Teddy! Teddy!” at times throughout the game, Bridgewater, projected to be a top NFL draft pick, set a school season record with 31 touchdown passes. The Miami native also tied the school record with his 27th victory as Louisville’s starter.
“It meant a lot because not only because I and so many other guys going against our hometown school, but we were going against a quality opponent,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been waiting for all year…That’s why you play the game, to compete. We competed in all three phases, offense, defense and kicking game.”
He was 35 for 45 for a career-high 447 yards.
Louisville won its second straight bowl game for its second 12-win season.
On the stage during the postgame trophy presentation Bridgewater, the game’s MVP, was showered again by Louisville fans who beckoned him with “One more year!” overtures.
He reiterated though, that he hadn’t set any decision-making timelines on deciding whether to submit his name for the NFL’s early entry deadline.
“As of now it’s not about me, it’s about this team,” Bridgewater said. “We want to celebrate tonight’s victory and each of us, whether it’s seniors or underclassmen – we all have decisions to make. But for tonight we wanted to focus on this game and get this game out of the way. Celebrate it and enjoy this moment.”
Louisville coach Charlie Strong said throughout the week that he was banking on his defense to help spark the offense. It responded with one of its best efforts of the season.
Miami, playing in its first bowl game since 2010, hasn’t had a bowl victory since 2006, losing four straight. The Hurricanes were returning to the postseason following a two-year, self-imposed ban during an NCAA investigation.
They got on the scoreboard first with the safety – one of their few highlights.
Hurricanes coach Al Golden said despite the setback, they aren’t going to stray too far from the foundation they’ve been trying to build.
“We got beat in all three phases. There’s no excuses,” Golden said. “I’m going to evaluate the whole program, just like I do every year. It’s not going to be any different. We’re going to keep moving it forward. We’re going to be resolute in that and we’re not going to flinch with that.”
A big second quarter, punctuated by Bridgewater’s two TD passes helped Louisville take a 22-2 lead.
Louisville coach Charlie Strong said he thinks his team sent a message to its future opponents as it joins the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
“I’ve been saying this all season long and I still feel like this – we’re one of the best teams in college football,” Strong said.
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