College Football Handicapping Russell Athletic Bowl: Miami Hurricanes vs #18 Louisville Cardinals

2013 Russell Athletic Bowl
Miami Hurricanes vs #18 Louisville Cardinals
Citrus Bowl – Orlando, Florida
Saturday, December 28, 2013, 6:45 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Louisville -3
Current Line: Louisville -3 1/2
Opening Total: 55 1/2
Current Total: 57 1/2
Opening Money Line: Louisville -160 / Miami +135
Current Money Line: Louisville -170 / Miami +145

Louisville is favored to beat Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl Saturday in Orlando.
Louisville is favored to beat Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl Saturday in Orlando.

At one point both the Louisville Cardinals and Miami Hurricanes were both undefeated and ranked in the top 10 in the BCS standings. However, Louisville would finish 11-1 and Miami would finish 9-3. The two schools meet in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando Saturday. The Cardinals and Hurricanes meet for the 12th time. Miami leads the series 9-1-1 but Louisville won the last meeting 31-7 in Louisville in 2006. The two schools will be conference rivals next year when Louisville leaves the American Athletic Association for the ACC.

Miami finished tied for second in the ACC Coastal Division with Virginia Tech and Georgia at 5-3. All three teams were behind 6-2 Duke. Miami returns to a bowl game for the first time since 2010 after a two year self imposed post season ban to ward off harsh NCAA sanctions. The Hurricanes are 18-16 in bowl games but have lost 4 of their last 5 bowl games including 33-17 in the 2010 Sun Bowl to Notre Dame. This is the fourth time Miami has played in this particular bowl game. The Hurricanes are 2-1 in the game, with both wins occurring when the game was held in Miami in the early 90’s. Miami lost to Wisconsin 20-14 in the 2009 game in Orlando.

Louisville finished second in the AAC with a 7-0 record behind 8-0 Central Florida. The Cardinals are 8-8-1 in bowl games all-time and making their fourth straight trip to a bowl game. Louisville beat Florida 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl last season. The Cardinals have never played in this bowl before.

Miami is coached by Al Golden. Miami started off the season 7-0, but three straight blowout losses at Florida State 41-14 and Duke 48-30 and at home against Virginia Tech 42-24 sent the Hurricanes plummeting out of the top 25. Miami closed the regular season with two straight wins at home against Virginia 45-26 and at Pittsburgh 41-31. The Hurricanes have additional home wins over Florida Atlantic 34-6, Florida 21-16, Savannah State 77-7, Georgia Tech 45-30 and Wake Forest 24-21. Miami also won at South Florida 49-31 and 27-23 at North Carolina. The Hurricanes are 5-7 ATS and the total is 7-5  this season. Miami was a 1.5 point favorite against Pittsburgh and the total was 56.

Miami is outscoring teams 36-26 this season. The Hurricanes are #25 nationally in scoring and #59 in points allowed out of 125 FBS teams. Miami is averaging 446.8 total yards including 274.3 passing yards and 172.5 rushing yards. The Hurricanes are #39 in total offense and #30 in passing. Miami is allowing 417.9 yards per game on defense including 233.8 passing yards per game and 184.1 rushing yards. The Hurricanes are #83 in total defense, #73 in pass defense and #80 in rush defense. Miami is +6 in turnovers with 27 takeaways. The Hurricanes are averaging 47 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 43. Miami is 63/165 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 88/204. Miami has forced 28 sacks and allowed 13 this season. The Hurricanes are 43/52 scoring in the red zone with 32 touchdowns and opponents are 37/45 with 25 touchdowns. Miami has 7 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season and has allowed one pick six this season.

Miami quarterback Stephen Morris has completed 58.7% of his passes for 2,868 yards with 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Back-up Ryan Williams could see a few snaps and has completed 71% of his passes for 369 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Gray Crow has thrown a touchdown and an interception in limited action.

Running back Duke Johnson has 145 carries, 920 yards with 6 touchdowns, along with 4 catches for 77 yards. He is out for the season with a broken ankle. Dallas Crawford has 126 carries for 523 yards with 12 touchdowns, along with 17 catches for 149 yards with a touchdown grab. Gus Edwards has 54 carries for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. Running back Eduardo Clements has 30 carries for 194 yards.

Receiver Allan Hurns has 60 catches, 1,138 yards and 6 touchdowns along with 13 rushing yards. Stacy Coley has 30 catches, 559 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 2 carries for 80 yards and a rushing touchdown. He also has a kick & a punt return for touchdowns. Herb Waters has 28 catches, 406 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 2 carries, 58 yards and rushing touchdown. He is questionable with a knee injury. Clive Walford has 30 catches, 372 yards and 2 touchdowns. Phillip Dorsett  has 13 catches, 272 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has missed the last 6 games but isn’t listed on the injury report for the Louisville game. Tight end Standish Dobard is questionable with a knee injury. Two offensive linemen are out for the season or indefinitely. Three defensive players are on the injury report as well.

Louisville is coached by Charlie Strong. The only loss for the Cardinals came at home to Central Florida 38-35. Louisville has home wins over Ohio 49-7, Eastern Kentucky 44-7, Florida International 72-0, Rutgers 24-10, Houston 20-13, and Memphis 24-17. The Cardinals have road wins at Kentucky 27-13,  Temple 30-7, South Florida  34-3, UConn 31-10 and Cincinnati 31-24 in overtime to close out the regular season. The Cardinals have won five straight games. Louisville is    5-7 ATS and the total is 3-9 this season. Louisville was a 3 point favorite against Cincinnati and the total was 49.

Louisville is outscoring teams 35-12 this season. The Cardinals #3 nationally in points allowed and #29 in points scored out of 125 teams. Louisville is #34 in total offense at 453.1 yards per game including the #18 passing attack at 302.9 yards per game and 150.2 rushing yards.  On defense, the Cardinals are allowing 258.2 yards per game including 171.7 passing and 86.5 rushing yards. Louisville is #2 nationally in total and rush defense and the pass defense is #8. The Cardinals are +17 in turnovers with 26 takeaways. Louisville averages 63 penalty yards per game and opponents average 31. The Cardinals are 91/166 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 57/181. Louisville has forced 39 sacks and allowed 25 this season. The Cardinals are 47/53 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns and opponents are 25/35 with 17 touchdowns. The Cardinals have one kick return, and one punt return both for touchdowns, plus four defensive touchdowns.

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater entered the season as a Heisman contender and likely #1 pick in the NFL draft. He has had a great season, but hasn’t put up the video game type numbers people expected from him. He has completed 70.2% of his passes for 3,523 yards with 28 touchdowns and 4 picks, along with 57 carries for 54 yards. Back-up Will Gardner has thrown for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, mostly in garbage time of blowouts.

Running back Dominique Brown has 147 carries, 783 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 22 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. Senorise Perry has 135 carries, 631 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 128 yards. He is questionable Saturday for undisclosed reasons. Michael Dyer has 44 carries, 223 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 2 catches. He is questionable with a groin injury after missing the Cincinnati game. Little used running back Corvin Lamb is out for the season with a knee injury.

Receiver  DeVante Parker has 46 catches, 743 yards and 11 touchdowns. Damian Copeland has 52 catches, 690 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 21 rushing yards. Eli Rogers has 41 catches, 498 yards and 4 touchdowns. Gerald Christian has 26 catches, 401 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kai De La Cruz has 15 catches, 271 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is questionable with a groin injury. Robert Clark has 23 catches, 209 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Hunter Bowles is out for the season with a neck injury. Cornerback Charles Gaines has a kick return, a punt return and an interception return all for touchdowns. Three offensive linemen are questionable Saturday.

Miami is 8-1 ATS after a cover, 10-2 after allowing 450 total yards or more, 4-1 in non-conference games, 8-3 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 5-2 after allowing 200 rushing yards or more, 7-3 after a straight up win, 1-4 in bowl games, against teams with winning records, and in December, 1-5 in neutral site games, 1-6 overall, 0-4 after passing for 280 yards or more, and after allowing 280 passing yards or more.

Louisville is 12-2 ATS against ACC teams, 5-1 in non-conference games, 2-6 overall, 2-8 after a cover, 1-4 against teams with winning records, and after allowing more than 280 passing yards, and 1-6 after a straight up win.

I know the AAC is by far the weakest of the six power conferences, but Louisville should be ranked much higher than #18. Conference champion Central Florida is only #15 for that matter, and they should be ranked closer to the top 10 as well. Having said that, this game against Miami will match Louisville’s dominant defense against Miami’s explosive offense. Louisville’s offense is potent as well. Louisville should win this game pretty handily.

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