The Miami Hurricanes (9-3) and No. 18 Louisville Cardinals (11-1) will square off in the Orlando-based Russell Athletic Bowl on Saturday December 28. Miami wrapped the regular season with a road win at Pittsburgh, while Louisville survived an overtime thriller at Cincinnati.
There are many subplots regarding the Hurricanes and Cardinals—starting with a budding rivalry as Louisville moves from the American Athletic Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.
There are also a handful of Magic City-themed ties, as some South Florida talent made its way to the Bluegrass State over the past few seasons—most notably, Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was originally a Hurricanes commit.
A product of Miami Northwestern High, Bridgewater opted to hit the road, as did two Bulls teammates, wide receiver Eli Rogers and linebacker Keith Brown. Homestead High linebacker James Burgess Jr. also chose Louisville over Miami, despite his father playing for the Hurricanes two decades back.
There's also the coaching factor with Louisville head coach Charlie Strong and defensive line coach Clint Hurtt. Strong was the former defensive coordinator at rival Florida, while Hurtt is a former Miami player and assistant who was eventually implicated in the long-running NCAA investigation.
Due to their Sunshine State ties, Strong and Hurtt helped create a 305-to-502 pipeline which Hurricanes head coach Al Golden ands staff are working to shut down.
While Bridgewater looks to shine in what will most likely be his final collegiate game, Miami will unleash years of bowl-themed frustration. The Hurricanes self-imposed back-to-back postseason bans and hasn't seen a bowl game since 2010, or won one since 2006.
This game also marks the final outing for a handful of prolific Hurricanes, including quarterback Stephen Morris, wide receiver Allen Hurns and veteran offensive linemen Brandon Linder, Jared Wheeler and Seantrel Henderson.
Two high-powered offenses and two quality teams that had higher aspirations but had their trajectories rocked with midseason setbacks. Who will bring their A-game on Saturday when Miami and Louisville face off, each looking to end 2013 on a high note?
Time: 6:45 p.m. ET
Place: Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, FL
Radio: WQAM 560 (Miami), WHAS 840 (Louisville)
Spread: Louisville -3.5 (Hilton, Golden Nugget, Caesars, Mirage)