ORLANDO, Fla. (WDRB) -- There was a moment, after finding his old Miami Northwestern high school teammate Michaelee Harris in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass to put the Cardinals up 22-2, that looked as much like a Teddy Bridgewater valedictory as any I've seen.
Bridgewater, before the pass even came down, raised his right arm, flashed the "L" with his thumb and forefinger, and pointed to his mother.
There were other stars in the University of Louisville's 36-9 pummeling of Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl Saturday.
There was Marcus Smith wreaking havoc on the Miami offense to lead a Cardinal defense that totally dominated the Hurricanes.
There was DeVante Parker, with a SportsCenter catch to give the Cards their first touchdown, and 142 yards on 9 catches for the game.
But it's Bridgewater who ran the show. Against a Miami defense bent on putting extreme pressure on him, he sliced the Hurricanes like a Christmas ham. He threw for 447 yards, completing 35 of 45 passes for three touchdowns. Perhaps more surprising -- he ran five times for 22 yards.
On the last play of the first quarter, he faked the read option to Dominique Brown and kept the ball for 15-yard gain. That seemed to shake the Miami defense.
He kept it again in the second quarter. And then, early in the fourth, with the Cards already up 29-2 and looking for the exclamation point, he liked up over center on 4th and goal at the Miami 1. He faked the ball to Brown, then rolled right and skirted to the front pylon for the rushing touchdown.
Time and again, Bridgewater saw Miami pressure coming and dealt down to a hot receiver, or cooly found a running back or wideout on a screen pass.
His third TD pass of the game -- to Senorise Perry on a perfectly timed screen against the blitz -- went for 24 yards and was his 31st of the season, a new school record.
The chants of "Teddy" filled the Florida Citrus Bowl stadium even before the game began. They grew stronger after Bridgewater avoided a rush and, once again, as he did at Cincinnati, gathered himself to complete a pass to Damian Copeland.
But it was with Parker that Bridgewater was most connected. He hit him for the highlight-reel touchdown. He hit him over the middle. And he hit him midway through the fourth quarter when Parker was interfered with, pushed, shoved and nearly tripped, but still made the catch.
And he didn't want to come off. Even with a 36-9 lead and the game out of reach, Bridgewater stayed in the game. He wanted to finish it. His last drive began with a scramble and a completion to Copeland. His season ended with 1:30 left in the game, after a completion to Eli Rogers -- his lifelong friend whom Bridgewater opened his home to while Rogers' mother suffered with AIDS.
Bridgewater raised his hand to the crowd, pumped his fists, to chants of "Teddy," which included a few chants of "One More Year."
Most people with NFL Draft knowledge -- and even those without -- don't think that's going to happen at Louisville.
But for Bridgewater, what a three-year career it has been. And as he has done more often than not at Louisville -- he saved his best for last.
MORE TO COME FROM ERIC CRAWFORD AT THE RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL IN ORLANDO.
Wednesday, March 5 2014 8:53 AM EST2014-03-05 13:53:25 GMT
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