The Russell Athletic Bowl: Louisville Cardinals vs. Miami Hurricanes Pick-Odds-Prediction 12/28/13
Miami Hurricanes (9-3) at Louisville Cardinals (11-1)
College Football: Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm (Florida Citrus Bowl)
The Line: Louisville Cardinals -3 -- Over/Under: 56.5 See the Latest Odds
Storyline: In what looks to become of the ACC’s more enthralling future rivalries, 18th-ranked Louisville, who just missed out on a perfect season, and a Miami side seeking its first ten win season since 2003 square off in the Russell Ahletic Bowl Saturday.
The Breakdown: After blazing through the first six games on the slate and outscoring opponents 246-44, the undefeated season that appeared a certainty for the Cardinals stalled with a dramatic 38-35 loss to UCF in the game’s final seconds. Louisville would bounce back and reel off their next five, ending with a 31-24 extra time thriller over Cincinnati in the season finale. The Cardinals now hope to go out with a win before heading to the ACC next year.
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If this is indeed Teddy Bridgewater’s swan song before embarking on a career in the NFL, the junior QB did about as well as he could have playing in the American Athletic Conference (the former Big East). Even a perfect finish wouldn’t have ended with a title shot for the Cardinals. Bridgewater finished the regular season as the nation’s fifth best passer, completing 70.2 percent of his passes for 3,523 yards and 28 TDs to 4 INTs. Louisville ranks 18th nationally in passing yards (302.9), 80th in rushing yards (150.2), and 29th in scoring offense (35.1). Bridgewater’s top targets this season were junior DeVante Parker (46 REC, 743 YDS, 11 TDs) and senior Damian Copeland (52 REC, 690 YDs, 5 TDs). Junior Dominique Brown (783 YDs, 8 TDs) led the team in rushing. Defensively, the Cardinal’s own the country’s second-ranked total defense in yards allowed (257.9), its second-ranked rushing defense (86.3) and third stingiest scoring defense (12.4). Senior DE Marcus Smith, who finished second in the nation with 12.5 sacks, is one of this unit’s standouts.
Miami, meanwhile, also met with disappointment in 2013. After rattling off their first seven and reaching a #7 raking, the Hurricanes ran into then #3 Florida State and got throttled 41-14. The loss signaled the start of a three-game skid, which also included blowout losses to Virginia Tech and Duke. Miami ended the season winning its last two decisively over Virginia and Pittsburgh.
The loss of sophomore RB Duke Johnson to a broken ankle in the Florida State game really put a dent in the Hurricane offense. Leading up to his injury, Johnson had already rushed for 920 yards and 6 TDs and there were four games left on the slate at that point. Miami finished the regular season with the FBS’s 30th-ranked passing offense (274.3 YDs), 63rd-ranked rushing offense (172.5 YDs) and 26th-ranked scoring offense (35.9 pts). The Hurricane offense is led by senior QB Stephen Morris (2,868 YDs, 21 TDs, 12 INTs) and senior WR Allen Hurns (60 REC, 1,138 YDs, 6 TDs) was his top target. On the defensive side, Miami brings the nation’s 59th-ranked scoring defense, allowing 26.0 points per outing.
Rick’s Pick: Thee line in this matchup is currently set at -3 for Louisville with a 56.5 point total. In their last five games, the Hurricanes gave up a whopping average of 518.6 total yards and 37.6 points a game. Things look good for Bridgewater having his way and going out on top. Look for Louisville to cover.
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