When this season began, Louisville expected a bit more from this season. Going undefeated, BCS Bowl and Teddy Bridgewater winning the Heisman trophy. Maybe it goes to serve as proof to the growth of the program is finishing 12-1 with Bridgewater cementing himself as the number one quarterback prospect heading into the NFL is considered slightly disappointing.
For a second straight year, Lousiville had no problem dispatching an opponent from Florida, beating Miami 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Bridgewater completed 35-of-45 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns, while Miami managed only 174 yards of total offense. That is the worst offensive performance by the Hurricanes since September 6, 2008 in a 26-3 loss at Florida, gaining only 140 yards.
Things didn’t start off that well for the Cardinals, as Bridgewater was sacked inside the endzone for a safety, but he and his team replied by scoring the next 36 points, making Gus Edwards’ touchdown to finish the game with 10:32 left in the fourth quarter completely meaningless.
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. 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. As of now it’s not about me, it’s about this team. 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.
Bridgewater helped lead the Cardinals to two consecutive 12-win seasons, while setting a new school record with 27 wins as a starting quarterback. He does have one more year to go if he wants to stay, but the Miami native has pretty much made up his mind, and there don’t seem to be too many people arguing about him being the most NFL-ready prospect of the lot in this draft class, or if another year of College Football under Charlie Strong is going to benefit him.
Besides Bridgewater, there was a very impressive performance from the defense. Stephen Morris threw for only 160 yards (completing 12-of-27), while his running backs gained only 14 yards on 28 carries. The injury to Duke Johnson didn’t just ruin any big hopes Miami had during the season, but it also exposed just how lacking in depth the team Al Golden put together actually is. Miami is now on a 4-game losing streak in bowls, its longest in school history.
So while Miami seem to be once again hitting the offseason with a lot of thinking to do about whether or not they’re heading in the right direction (with a 9-4 finish), for Louisville and Charlie Strong it seems to be about saying goodbye to a great player, but not giving up on their goal of becoming elite.
I’ve been saying this all season long and I still feel like this — we’re one of the best teams in college football. When we go out and play the way we played tonight, you can understand why.