Miami routed 36-9 by Louisville in Russell Athletic Bowl; Teddy Bridgewater throws for 447 yards

There was Teddy Bridgewater, a man familiar to many Hurricanes since their days on the Miami sandlots, shaking defenders and slinging passes all over the field Saturday night.

He was the same Teddy they’ve always known, now clad in Cardinals red, slicing their defense and breaking their spirits.

“I played against him in high school,” UM linebacker Denzel Perryman said. “He pretty much did the same thing — just a lot better.”

The Louisville junior torched his hometown school for a career-high 447 yards passing and four total touchdowns, embarrassing Miami 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.

It was the worst loss of the year for Miami (9-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), which was looking to finish with 10 wins for the first time since 2003. Coach Al Golden, finally free of the NCAA’s investigative cloud in his third season, took UM to its first bowl since 2010 after two self-imposed postseason bans.

A year of hope ended on a bitter note.

“Disappointed with our execution in all three phases,” Golden said. “Despite that, just really proud of … this group of seniors and what they’ve been through moving us forward, from six to seven to nine wins.”

In its final game in the American Athletic Conference before joining the ACC next year, No. 18 Louisville (12-1, 7-1 AAC) earned its 12th win for the second time in program history. The last season they won 12 was in 2006, which is the last season the Canes and Cards met.

That game was a blowout win by Louisville, a 31-7 victory that served as a lowlight of a disastrous season for UM. Saturday’s game had a similar feeling: The Canes could do little right.

Louisville, which blew out Florida 33-23 in last season’s Sugar Bowl, will host Miami next year on a date to be determined. They might not see Bridgewater, who could decide to enter the NFL draft. He is considered by many analysts to be the No. 1 draft-eligible quarterback. After Saturday, many more may feel that way.

Bridgewater, who was named MVP and heard “One more year” chants from the crowd after the game, was unflappable. He completed 35 of 45 passes and added 24 yards on six carries, including a 1-yard rushing score. He converted all four drives in the second and third quarters for touchdowns. That drained the life from Miami’s sideline and drew “Teddy” chants from the Louisville contingent among the 51,098 in attendance.

UM’s defense had them nervous at the outset. At 11:51 of the first quarter, sophomore Deon Bush registered a safety on a safety blitz, rushing Bridgewater and hauling him down in the end zone.

Bridgewater marched the Cardinals up and down the field, but they settled for three field goals. John Wallace converted from 36, 43 and 42 yards for a 9-2 lead.

“I feel like we came out there focused,” Perryman said. “I guess guys just got relaxed. We went from locked in to being relaxed.”

Louisville noticed. With 7:10 left in the first half, receiver DaVante Parker caught a 26-yard TD pass from Bridgewater, wrestling it away from freshman cornerback Artie Burns. Adding insult, Parker stood over a fallen Burns for a few seconds, his head bobbing. None of the officials, who came from the Big Ten, threw a flag.

After UM quarterback Stephen Morris nearly threw an interception twice on one drive, Louisville gave UM a gift: a fourth-down unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, keeping a drive alive. However, Marcus Smith strip-sacked Morris to keep UM from scoring.

“We needed to help our defense out by staying on the field and putting points on the board,” said Morris, who finished 12-of-27 for 160 yards.

Miami’s offensive line gave up 13 sacks heading in, but Louisville put down Morris four times, often violently. UM finished 0-of-11 on third down, while Louisville was 8-of-14 and held the ball for 38:32. UM allowed 554 yards, the fifth time in its final six games it gave up more than 500.

Bridgewater, meanwhile, was magical. Before the half, he needed just 1:15 to bring the Cards 60 yards up the field, tossing a 12-yard TD pass to Michaelee Harris with 30 seconds left in the half.

In the third, Bridgewater hit Senorise Perry on third-and-4 at the 26. Perry bounced off three would-be tacklers to the end zone.

The final insult: On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Bridgewater rushed to the right and stiff-armed Bush to get over the goal line. In the celebration that followed, he threw up his hands in the Canes’ familiar “U” sign, then drew his hands across his throat in a slicing motion.

A minor consolation came late at 10:23 of the fourth. Freshman Gus Edwards scored UM’s first touchdown, plunging in from the 2-yard line to make it 36-9.

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