If the Russell Athletic Bowl proves to be Teddy Bridgewater's final collegiate performance, then he could not have picked a finer way to go out, returning to his home state of Florida and leading the Louisville Cardinals to an easy 36-9 win.
It did not start out as a blowout, though. Indeed, when Bridgewater was tackled in the end zone by Deon Bush for a safety just five minutes into the game, it looked like the Hurricanes were ready to wreck some havoc in their return to bowl season.
Turns out, they only had a light drizzle in store.
Bridgewater shook off that initial gaffe to put up yet another fantastically efficient performance -- the kind that have become so commonplace in his career.
After those first two Miami points, it was all Cardinals the rest of the way. Louisville scored 22 consecutive points to close the half, thanks to three John Wallace field goals from 36, 43 and 42 yards, and then a pair of Bridgewater touchdown passes.
He also had this highlight-reel toss to Damian Copeland right before the half:
The safety and a Wallace missed extra point proved to be the only Louisville mistakes in the first two quarters, and as fantastic as Bridgewater was in the first half, the Cardinals' defense was just as good. In just 30 minutes of action, they sacked Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris three times, pressured him on at least four occasions, forced Miami into an 0-for-7 on third downs, held them to 82 total yards and picked up a Morris fumble for good measure.
Coming out of the half, Bridgewater continued to pound away at the Hurricanes, scoring with a touchdown pass to Senorise Perry and again on a one-yard run on fourth-and-goal. That pushed the lead up to 36-2, and although Miami cut into things a bit on a short touchdown from Gus Edwards, it was merely window dressing.
The Cardinals ended up as Russell Athletic Bowl champions, picking up a 12th win.
Afterward, Bridgewater was asked about his intentions in regards to the NFL draft, and appeared to tip his hand a bit, although he made sure to mention his decision was not final yet.
"What a way to go out ... " says Teddy Bridgewater. There you have it.— SB Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) December 29, 2013
Box Score Hero: Who else? It had to be Bridgewater, who threw for a career high 447 yards and three touchdowns. He added one more on the ground.
Rankings Ramifications: Louisville may see a slight rankings bump at the end of bowl season, depending on how things shake out with other teams.
But Did They Cover? The Cardinals were anywhere from 5.5- to 6-point favorites at kickoff, up from 3 when the line opened. They covered easily.