The early evening (6:45 pm ET) game this Saturday features the Miami Hurricanes (9-3) of the ACC taking on the 18th ranked Louisville Cardinals (11-1) of the American Athletic Conference in the Russell Athletic Bowl from the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL. Miami won their last two regular season games over Virginia (45-26) and on the road against Pittsburgh (41-31), but the ‘Canes suffered their only 3 losses of the season prior to that to finish 2-3 down the stretch. Louisville defeated Cincinnati 31-24 in their regular season finale on December 5th, and the Cardinals suffered their only loss in week 8 to UCF 38-35 at home.
Miami ranks 39th among FBS teams in total offense with 446.8 yards per game and 24th in scoring offense with 35.9 points per game. Quarterback Stephen Morris (2,868 yards passing, 21 TDs, 12 INTs) is experienced, and leads a unit that ranks 29th nationally with 274.3 YPG passing. Wide receiver Allen Hurns is a big-play talent with 60 receptions for 1,138 yards (19 yard avg.) ad 6 TDs. Miami ranks 78th nationally in total defense with 415.8 YPG allowed and 59th in points allowed with 26 per game.
Louisville ranks 34th among FBS teams in total offense with 453.1 yards per game and 29th in scoring offense with 35.1 points per game. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater ranks as one of the nation’s best with 3,523 yards passing and 28 TDs, and is a probable #1 overall pick in next spring’s NFL Draft. Running back Dominique Brown leads the team with 783 yards rushing and 8 TDs, and wide receivers Davante Parker (46 receptions, 743 yards, 11 TDs) and Damian Copeland (52 receptions, 690 yards, 5 TDs) are two of Bridgewater’s main targets. Louisville ranks 2nd nationally in total defense with 257.9 YPG allowed and 3rd in scoring defense with 12.4 points per game allowed.
Miami vs. Louisville Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Miami Hurricanes +3
@ Louisville Cardinals -3
Over 57 (-110)
Under 57 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Miami vs Louisville Pick
Miami is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games and the Hurricanes are 11-3 straight up in their last 14 games. The total has gone OVER in 4 of their last 5 games. The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the Cardinal’s last 5 games. Louisville is 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games and 5-0 straight up in their last 5 games.
Both teams were ranked in the top 10 at one point this season, and have a great deal of talent on their rosters. The players are also very familiar with each other as Louisville has 23 players from the Miami area including Bridgewater. The key match-up is the o-line of Miami that allowed only 13 sacks on the year against a Cardinal defensive line that ranked 4th in the nation with 39 sacks and 3rd nationally with 4.27 yards per play allowed. Miami is also playing in their first bowl game since 2012 and first under Head Coach Al Golden after a two-year self-imposed bowl ban. Louisville played in a BCS bowl last season, soundly defeating Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
The Cardinals will not be awed by the spotlight here. Miami is also hurt by the loss of explosive running back Duke Johnson to injury, which hampers their ability to run the ball against an already tough run defense. Morris has proven to be mistake-prone in big games and has a bad habit of turning the ball over in key situations. Louisville is the pick here against a Miami team that has been on a downward trajectory at the end of the season and makes too many mistakes on offense.