The Russell Athletic Bowl kicks off on Saturday December 28 from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. This season’s matchup features the Louisville Cardinals versus the Miami Hurricanes.
Miami will be the best team the Cardinals will have played the entire season, but that is not saying a whole lot.
The schedule for Louisville was No. 105 in the ratings. The Cardinals have not beaten any team of note this season, yet odds makers like Bovada and topbet have Louisville listed as a favorite in this bowl game.
Both teams have NFL quality quarterbacks leading their offenses. Teddy Bridgewater is the Louisville quarterback that leads an offense averaging over 35 points per game. The only blemish on Louisville’s 11-1 SU record came during midseason at the hands of Central Florida 38-35.
For Miami, quarterback Stephen Morris has been the glue that has kept the offense together following the loss of Duke Johnson the star running back who went down with an ankle injury early in November. Against strong offenses, the Miami defense has not played well, giving up 42 points to Virginia Tech for example.
The latest line on betonline has Louisville favored by 3.5 points with the point total sitting on 57. The line on sportsbook.com has fluctuated between its open of -3 for Louisville to -3.5.
Against bowl teams this season, Louisville was 2-3 ATS, while Miami was 2-4 ATS against the same category of opponents. Under Charlie Strong their head coach, the Cardinals have a record of 2-1 ATS in three bowl games. Last season the Cardinals upset the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl.
Over their past seven games as an underdog, the Hurricanes have gone 6-1 ATS.
When the Hurricanes lost Johnson, they went on a three game losing streak including allowing Duke to score 48 points. However, the Hurricanes rebounded to end the season with two straight wins scoring over 40 points against Pittsburgh and Virginia.
Morris has not been consistent this season. However, over his past four games of the season he had 9 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions.
Louisville has been strong on both sides of the ball. For the season, the Cardinals are No. 3 in the country in defense points allowed. However, they have had a very weak schedule with the four bowl teams on their schedule being Ohio, Rutgers, Cincinnati and Houston.
Bridgewater nevertheless is an elite talent at the college level. His favorite target DeVante Parker is also expected to play in the NFL. Bridgewater is just a junior but many expect he will declare for the May 2014 NFL Draft, but the quarterback has been silent about his future.
Since Louisville has not faced much competition, it is hard to say how they will fare against Miami. The game should be tight. I like Louisville SU and Miami ATS.