When Louisville and Miami take the field in Orlando for the Russell Athletic Bowl, there will be a common theme: what could've been in 2013.
The Cardinals, led by Heisman hopeful Teddy Bridgewater, came into the season with a top-10 ranking. If they were able to navigate the AAC with a perfect record and get some help along the way, UL had a decent chance at playing for the national title. That never happened, of course, and now it'll be UCF that represents the conference in the Fiesta Bowl.
Miami bounced back in a big way from a rough 2012 campaign and had a chance to make a national statement against Florida State in early November. It ended up getting blown out by the Seminoles and lost star tailback Duke Johnson for the rest of the year with a broken ankle. The loss to FSU was the first of three in a row, dropping the Hurricanes from national title contenders to the middle of the ACC.
It's rare to get two teams in a non-BCS bowl game that were both ranked in the top 10 at one point in the season. We'll get a chance to see it happen in Orlando.
Rankings and records: Louisville comes in ranked 18th in the BCS, 16th in the Coaches Poll and 18th in the AP Poll. Miami is No. 25 in the Coaches Poll and came up just short of the top 25 in the AP.
Vegas: Louisville is listed as a three-point favorite. The over-under is set at 57 points.
Weather: The high will hit the low 70s. Some rain is possible.
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Stadium: Citrus Bowl (capacity: 70,229)
Tickets: Find available seats here.
Last year's score: Virginia Tech 13, Rutgers 10 (OT)
Last year's attendance: 48,129
Last year's TV rating: 2.5 share (3.9 million viewers)
Last year's payout for each school: $2.3 million
Team with the most all-time appearances: NC State (5)
Team with the most all-time wins: NC State and Florida State (3)
Three names to know
Teddy Bridgewater - Everyone already knows just how good Bridgewater is. This could be the final time he takes the field in a Louisville uniform, though, and with NFL gurus everywhere watching his every move, it'll be interesting to see how he handles the big stage.
DeVante Parker - Bridgewater does a nice job distributing the ball to all of his receivers, but Parker is his go-to guy. He leads the team with 743 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 46 receptions.
Dallas Crawford - With Duke Johnson injured, Crawford has shouldered a majority of the carries. He's played pretty well in Johnson's absence, rushing for 229 yards and scoring three times in the last four games. He's also an option to catch a couple of passes out of the backfield.
Two things at stake
Things came crashing down in a hurry for Miami this season. A win would be a big momentum booster into the offseason for Al Golden's boys.
This probably isn't quite the game Louisville wanted to be playing in this year. That being said, a win over the Hurricanes would give them 12 wins for just the second time in school history.
How to witness
TV: 6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
Online streaming: WatchESPN