Teddy Bridgewater put an appropriate exclamation mark—maybe—on his scintillating collegiate career Saturday night, dominating the school he once verbally committed to in the state he grew up in.
The consensus No. 1 quarterback in the 2014 class (should he declare) torched the Miami Hurricanes to the tune of a career-high 447 passing yards and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) on, as his No. 18 Louisville Cardinals took home the Russell Athletic Bowl in impressive fashion, 36-9.
After being sacked for a safety on the team's first drive of the game, Bridgewater absolutely carved up Al Golden's defense, leading scoring drives on seven of the team's next eight possessions.
He fired throws into tight windows, put touch on passes when necessary and made an array of plays with his legs, as the Cardinals tallied 554 yards of total offense and cruised to an easy victory despite committing nine penalties to Miami's two.
While Bridgewater spread the ball to 10 different receivers with post-Christmas charity, it was talented junior DeVante Parker who was the major beneficiary, hauling in nine passes for 142 yards and this first-half touchdown:
Of course, although Bridgewater was the main attraction, he wasn't the entire show, as the Cardinals defense was similarly up to the task. Miami was able to muster just 173 total yards on the night and didn't convert a third down on 11 opportunities.
Through the first 30 minutes, Louisville held the 'Canes to a meager 82 yards, sacked Stephen Morris three times and forced a turnover, helping usher Charlie Strong's team to a comprehensive 22-2 lead at halftime.
WDRB's Eric Crawford reports Strong's feeling after the game:
Miami was able to finally find the end zone when Gus Edwards capped a 55-yard drive with a two-yard score in the fourth quarter, but that wasn't until Louisville had scored 36 unanswered points and absolutely blew the Hurricanes out of the water.
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville: A
One sequence late in the second quarter pretty much summed up Bridgewater's performance.
First, he magnificently alluded pressure and flicked a perfect touch pass on the run to Damian Copeland for 21 yards. Two plays later, he fired a bullet from inside the pocket right on the money to Parker. On the next play, he lobbed a 12-yard touchdown to Michaelee Harris in the back corner of the end zone.
I'll go ahead and show you the Russell Wilson-like scramble as well as the touchdown throw, because I couldn't decide on one:
If that doesn't sum it up, this tweet from the Russell Athletic Bowl feed should do the trick:
Stephen Morris, Miami: C-
It didn't exactly help when the absence of Duke Johnson, plus an earlier deficit, forced the Hurricanes to become mostly one-dimensional, and it certainly didn't help that Louisville was able to get relentless pressure in the pocket.
But Morris had a forgettable night. He completed just seven of 15 passes for 67 yards, didn't make many impressive throws and opened himself up to an endless line of jokes:
The senior's draft stock took a major hit on Saturday.
Marcus Smith, Louisville: A
Louisville's offense was a well-oiled machine, as everyone was making plays: Parker, Damian Copeland, Harris, Senorise Perry, James Quick...the list goes on. But the defense deserves credit.
And the catalyst of the defensive performance was, ironically enough, former quarterback Marcus Smith. The senior defensive end, who entered the night second in the NCAA with 12.5 sacks, was consistently in the backfield.
He forced the only turnover of the game (a fumble) with his first sack, took down Morris on 4th-and-9 on his second sack and pressured Morris into forced throws on several other occasions.
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