Saturday, December 28, 2013
Instant Analysis: Louisville 36, Miami 9
By Andrea Adelson
ORLANDO, Fla. -- No. 18 Louisville completely dominated Miami 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Saturday night. Here is a look at how it happened:
It was over when: Teddy Bridgewater stepped on the field. Anybody wondering why Bridgewater could be the first pick in the NFL draft got their answer. After getting sacked in the end zone for a safety to start the game, Bridgewater put his foot on the gas and never let go. His 26-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker in the second quarter gave the Cards a double-digit lead they would not relinquish.
Game ball goes to: Bridgewater. Once again, the junior was simply outstanding for the Cards, throwing for a career-high 447 yards and scoring four touchdowns. He threw on the run, into double coverage, to wide-open receivers (10 in all), eluded would-be tacklers and ran just a little, too. Bridgewater also set the school single-season record for touchdown passes with 31 and was easily the best player on the field, showing up his hometown team in spectacular fashion. Following his fourth score, he flashed the "U" hand signal to the crowd.
Stat of the game: 0-for-11. A big reason the Miami offense could get nothing going in this game was its inability to convert on third down. This is a problem that has vexed Miami all season, as the Canes ranked No. 84 in the nation in third-down conversions. But this was its worst performance all season on third down, topping its previously terrible 1-for-11 showing. That came in a victory over Florida, which made it easier to overlook such mistakes.
State of the game II: 13. Miami has been unable to consistently run the ball with injured starter Duke Johnson out of the lineup. That issue showed itself once again Saturday night, as Miami managed 14 yards on the ground and 0.5 yards per carry. Louisville made its home in the Miami backfield, overwhelming the Canes' offensive line throughout the game.
What Miami learned: Miami ends the season with losses in four of its final six games after reaching as high as No. 7 in the polls back in November. This team clearly has a way to go before it can be called elite again. Miami was whipped in every phase of Saturday's game, most notably along the line of scrimmage. The defense was a sieve once again, leaving more questions about whether defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio will return next year. The Miami defense has shown few signs of improvement over the last two seasons and that cannot continue. Miami was outplayed, out-efforted and outcoached in this game, an embarrassing end to the season.
What Louisville learned: If Bridgewater played his final game in a Louisville uniform, he did it with gusto. Louisville must now await his decision on whether to return to school or leave early for the NFL draft. Bridgewater left little doubt that he will be one of the first quarterbacks off the board should he turn pro. Without him, Louisville will have major questions headed into Year 1 in ACC play. With him, Louisville becomes a wild card in the Atlantic Division. Louisville showed it has the physicality, the toughness and the athletes to fit right into its new league home. But it won't know much about its future until Bridgewater decides what to do.
To watch the trophy presentation of the Russell Athletic Bowl, click here.