ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Teddy Bridgewater threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score in No. 18 Louisville’s 36-9 victory over Miami on Saturday night in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The Cardinals (12-1) spotted Miami (9-4) an early 2-0 lead, then dominated the rest of the way, racking up 554 total yards to the Hurricanes’ 174.
Bridgewater was 35 for 45 for career-high 447 yards.
Louisville won its second straight bowl game for its second 12-win season.
With Cardinals’ fans chanting “Teddy! Teddy!” at times throughout the game Bridgewater, projected to be a top NFL draft pick if he comes out this summer, set a school season record with 31 touchdown passes. The Miami native also tied the school record with his 27th victory as Louisville’s starter.
Miami, playing in its first bowl game since 2010, hasn’t had a bowl victory since 2006, losing four straight. The Hurricanes were returning to the postseason following a two-year, self-imposed ban during an NCAA investigation.
They got on the scoreboard first with the safety. But was one of their few highlights.
A big second quarter by the Cardinals, punctuated by Bridgewater’s two touchdown passes helped Louisville take a 22-2 lead.
The Cardinals settled for field goals early after struggling to convert on third downs inside Hurricanes’ territory. That coincided with one of Bridgewater’s top third-down targets — receiver DeVante Parker — going down on the Louisville’s second series of the night with an ankle injury.
But those fortunes changed quickly when Parker returned in the second quarter after getting his ankle attended to by the training staff.
He immediately caught three passes on a seven-play, 80-yard drive, including a capping 26-yard touchdown reception. Parker finished with nine catches for 142yards.
Miami’s next possession appeared to have stalled near midfield, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty kept it going and eventually set up the Hurricanes with second-and-goal on the 5.
Stephen Morris dropped back to pass, but was grabbed and lost the ball as he was slung to the ground by Cardinals defensive end Marcus Smith. The loose ball was then recovered by Louisville’s Brandon Dunn to end the threat.
Louisville got it again with just under 2 minutes to play and drove 60 yards for another touchdown, scoring on Bridgewater’s 12-yard pass to Michael Harris.
The scores erased memories of a disastrous opening series for the Cardinals that ended with Hurricanes safety Deon Bush sacking Bridgewater in the end zone for a safety.
Miami managed only 83 total yards in the first half, while Louisville had 280.
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