Miami's bowl return vs. Louisville has real Florida flavor
The Sports Xchange
NCAAF Team Report - Miami - INSIDE SLANT
Russell Athletic Bowl.
But if the Hurricanes seem a little more geeked up for a second-tier bowl game than normal, there's good reason.
When Miami (9-3) and Louisville meet on Dec. 28 in Orlando, Fla., it will be the Hurricanes' first bowl game since 2010. The Hurricanes passed up bowl bids the last two years in order to minimize potential sanctions, a decision which paid off when the NCAA opted not to tack on additional bowl bans to the school's self-imposed punishment.
Third-year coach Al Golden ran his first bowl practices on Dec. 6 and 7 and his excitement was clear when talking with the Miami Herald.
"It felt great; it was unbelievable," Golden said. "I didn't answer one question about the NCAA. I think you see the attitude today. We're going to try like heck to send them out the first 10-win team in a decade."
That would be a sure sign of Miami's return to prominence. Since 2003, the Hurricanes have been one of the sport's biggest teases, mixing big moments with baffling defeats and overall underachievement.
Beating Louisville (11-1) and its coterie of South Florida players, including star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, would end the season on a huge high. But Louisville's A game is probably better than Miami's at this point.
Bridgewater is the symbol of what both programs are right now. He originally committed to the Hurricanes, but when coach Randy Shannon was canned, Cardinals coach Charlie Strong swooped in and picked up his signature recruit.
Although Louisville really hasn't played well since a dominant September, Bridgewater's standard of play hasn't dropped off. Nor has his competitive spirit.
Just ask Cincinnati, which saw Bridgewater deny the Bearcats a 10th victory with fourth quarter and overtime dramatics in the Dec. 5 regular season finale.
The bowl matchup will also give the Cardinals an idea of what to expect in their new league in 2014, as they will join the Hurricanes in a bloated 14-team Atlantic Coast Conference.
In fact, the teams are supposed to meet next year in Louisville.
And don't be surprised if Strong, who could use a motivational ploy or two after his team failed to meet their preseason goal of going unbeaten and earning a spot in the BCS title game, uses the program's soon to be ACC affiliation as inspiration.
"You talk about a team with a lot of resiliency and a lot of heart," Strong said after the win at Cincinnati. "There were high expectations this season."
NCAAF Team Report - Miami - NOTES, QUOTES
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