Miami and Louisville prepare to square off in the 24th annual Russell Athletic Bowl. This will be the 11th meeting between the two programs with Miami holding an 8-1-1 advantage, but the Cardinals won 31-7 the last time the two met in 2006. Louisville is coming off its second BCS Bowl appearance, a 33-23 win in the Sugar Bowl over Florida, while Miami returns to the post season for the first time since 2010.
Louisville Cardinals (Home)
Head Coach: Charlie Strong
Season Record: 11-1 (7-1 The American)
Bowl Record: 9-3
Bowl Record vs. ACC: 1-2
Record in Orlando Bowl Games: First appearance.
How They Got Here
Louisville heads to Orlando on a five game winning streak and ranked No. 18/16 in the latest AP/Coaches Polls. The Cardinals only loss came at the hands of No. 15 UCF, 38-35, back in October. Louisville’s staunch defense has stymied opponents all season ranking in the top five nationally in: total defense (257.9 ypg), rushing defense (86.3 ypg), scoring defense (12.4 ppg), turnover margin (1.3), third down conversion defense percentage (28.6%), and first downs allowed (169). The defense has been led by Marcus Smith, who finished the season second in the FBS in sacks per game (1.0), and recorded 40 total tackles. Offensively the Cardinals have been led by the consistent play of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The junior ranks fifth nationally in passing efficiency with a rating of 169.7. Bridgewater also is tied for 13th with 28 passing touchdowns on the season and 12th with 3,523 passing yards.
Five Key Players
QB Teddy Bridgewater – 3,523 passing yards, 28 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions
WR DeVante Parker – 46 receptions, 743 receiving yards, 11 touchdown receptions.
CB Terell Floyd – 45 tackles, four interceptions, one interception return for touchdown.
WR Damian Copeland – 52 receptions, 690 receiving yards, five touchdown receptions.
DE Marcus Smith – 40 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, three forced fumbles.
Head Coach: Al Golden
Season Record: 9-3 (5-3 ACC)
Bowl Record: 19-17
Bowl Record vs. American Athletic Conference: No previous games.
Bowl record in Russell Athletic Bowl: 1-1
How They Got Here:
Miami will play in the Russell Athletic Bowl after narrowly missing out on a trip to the ACC Championship game. The Hurricanes come to Orlando on a two game winning streak after finishing the regular season with wins over Virginia and Pittsburgh. Miami is led in part by its high powered offense that ranks 24th nationally and fourth in the ACC with 35.9 points per game. Quarterback Stephen Morris led the offense with 2,868 passing yards to go along with 21 touchdowns. Wide receiver Allen Hurns served as Morris’ favorite target, hauling in 94.8 yards per game (good for 19th in the FBS.)
Five Key Players
QB Stephen Morris – 2,868 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns
WR Allen Hurns – 60 receptions, 1,138 receiving yards, six touchdown receptions
LB Denzel Perryman – 104 total tackles, 1,5 sacks, one forced fumble
RB Dallas Crawford – 523 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns
DB Tracy Howard – 32 tackles, four interceptions, one forced fumble
Odds and Ends about the Matchup
-Miami or Louisville have at least one player on 27 of 32 NFL rosters and 10 NFL rosters feature a player from both teams.
-Seven NFL Pro Bowl players from last season played their college ball for the Hurricanes or Cardinals.
-Eight Florida High Schools have at least one player on both rosters with Miami Northwestern having the most combined with six total players (five for Louisville and one for Miami).