ORLANDO, Fla. — Teddy Bridgewater threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score in No. 18 Louisville’s 36-9 victory over Miami on Saturday night in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The Cardinals (12-1) spotted Miami (9-4) an early 2-0 lead, then dominated the rest of the way, racking up 554 total yards to the Hurricanes’ 174.
Bridgewater was 35 for 45 for career-high 447 yards.
Louisville won its second straight bowl game for its second 12-win season.
With Cardinals’ fans chanting “Teddy! Teddy!” at times throughout the game Bridgewater, projected to be a top NFL draft pick if he comes out this summer, set a school season record with 31 touchdown passes. The Miami native also tied the school record with his 27th victory as Louisville’s starter.
Miami, playing in its first bowl game since 2010, hasn’t had a bowl victory since 2006, losing four straight. The Hurricanes were returning to the postseason following a two-year, self-imposed ban during an NCAA investigation.
They got on the scoreboard first with the safety. But was one of their few highlights.
A big second quarter by the Cardinals, punctuated by Bridgewater’s two touchdown passes helped Louisville take a 22-2 lead.
The Cardinals settled for field goals early after struggling to convert on third downs inside Hurricanes’ territory. That coincided with one of Bridgewater’s top third-down targets — receiver DeVante Parker — going down on the Louisville’s second series of the night with an ankle injury.
But those fortunes changed quickly when Parker returned in the second quarter after getting his ankle attended to by the training staff.
He immediately caught three passes on a seven-play, 80-yard drive, including a capping 26-yard touchdown reception. Parker finished with nine catches for 142 yards.
Miami’s next possession appeared to have stalled near midfield, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty kept it going and eventually set up the Hurricanes with second-and-goal on the 5.
Stephen Morris dropped back to pass, but was grabbed and lost the ball as he was slung to the ground by Cardinals defensive end Marcus Smith. The loose ball was then recovered by Louisville’s Brandon Dunn to end the threat.
Louisville got it again with just under 2 minutes to play and drove 60 yards for another touchdown, scoring on Bridgewater’s 12-yard pass to Michael Harris.
No. 25 Notre Dame 29, Rutgers 16: At New York, Tommy Rees passed for 319 yards in his final college game, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals and Notre Dame muddled through a victory over Rutgers.
The Fighting Irish (9-4) finished their follow-up season to last year’s run to the national championship game a long way from the BCS against a two-touchdown underdog trying to avoid a losing record.
Notre Dame’s TJ Jones scored on an 8-yard run in the first quarter and Rutgers star Brandon Coleman answered with a 14-yard touchdown catch soon after. Tarean Folston’s 3-yard touchdown run with 3:38 in the fourth made it 26-16 and finally gave the Irish a comfortable lead.
On the slick, cold turf at Yankee Stadium, the Pinstripe Bowl turned into a field-goal kicking contest. Brindza was 5 for 6. Kyle Federico made 3 of 3 for the Scarlet Knights (6-7).
The Irish dominated in yards (494-237) and time of possession (38:49) but bogged down in the red zone repeatedly.
Rees closed a college career packed with both memorable and forgettable moments with a solid performance, going 27-for-47.
The senior has been “The Closer,” rallying Notre Dame to victories with late drives, and “Turnover Tommy,” making crushing mistakes at the most inopportune times during four seasons in South Bend.
Against one of the worst pass defenses in the nation on Saturday, Rees’ greatest accomplishment was not throwing an interception.
Twice Notre Dame put together double-digit play drives that ended in short field goals for Brindza. A 15-play, 90-yard march that started in the third quarter and ended in the fourth with Brindza’s 25-yarder made it 19-13 Notre Dame with 12:46 left.
Brindza’s third field goal, a 26-yarder with 6:03 left in the third quarter, gave Notre Dame a 16-13 lead — after the Irish caught a break. Brindza had missed from 36 yards but Rutgers was flagged for running into the kicker to give him a second, easier, try.
Notre Dame improved to 17-6-3 at Yankee Stadium, though this ballpark in the Bronx is only a few years old and across the street from where the original House that Ruth built sat for decades.
The Fighting Irish played the first football game in the new stadium back in 2010. Rees, a freshman then, helped the Irish beat Army and got to use Derek Jeter’s locker. Called upon to lead the Irish this year after Everett Golson was suspended from school for academic cheating, Rees surpassed 3,000 yards through the air and became one of the most prolific passers in school history, making the most of his limited physical tools.
North Carolina 39, Cincinnati 7: At Charlotte, N.C., T.J. Logan returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown, and Ryan Switzer scored on an 86-yard punt return to help North Carolina beat Cincinnati for its first Belk Bowl victory in four attempts.
Marquise Williams threw for 171 yards and a touchdown for the Tar Heels (7-6) in their first bowl victory since 2010. Romar Morris scored on two short touchdown runs, and Jack Tabb caught a touchdown pass as the Tar Heels closed the season by winning six of their final seven games.
Cincinnati (9-4) was looking to become the bowl’s first back-to-back champion since Virginia did it 10 years ago, but last year’s MVP Brandon Kay was limited to 181 yards passing and no touchdowns.
The Tar Heels had five sacks, including one for a safety.