ORLANDO — They hoped this night would mark their triumphant return to the postseason.
Instead, for the Miami Hurricanes, this bowl appearance was the stuff of nightmares.
Miami native Teddy Bridgewater, who once committed to play for his hometown school, shredded the Hurricane defense. Offensively, Miami had no answers, and its first bowl trip in two years ended the same way as its past three, with a loss.
Louisville embarrassed Miami 36-9 in Saturday's Russell Athletic Bowl at the Florida Citrus Bowl. An announced 51,098, many of whom traveled from South Florida and wore Miami's colors, watched as Bridgewater likely put the finishing touches on an impressive college career for the Cardinals (12-1) by dominating Miami's secondary.
For Miami (9-4), which missed the postseason after a two-year self-imposed ban stemming from an NCAA investigation into the actions of a former booster, the loss was especially stinging.
"We got beat in all three phases. There's no excuses," Miami coach Al Golden said. "We didn't play well enough. Give a lot of credit to Louisville. … As I just shared with the team, despite that, I'm proud of Stephen (Morris, quarterback) and this group of seniors for what they've been through and what they've endured in moving this program forward."
Bridgewater was 35-of-45 for a career-high 447 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the school record with 31 TD passes this season. He also ran for a score.
The junior hasn't declared for the NFL draft, but most analysts peg him as the top quarterback available and possibly No. 1 overall if he comes out.
"As of now, it's not about me; it's about this team," Bridgewater said. "We want to celebrate (Saturday's) victory, and each of us … we all have decisions to make."
Morris struggled. He was 12-of-27 for 160 yards and was nearly picked off multiple times. His offensive line, which had allowed just 13 sacks goming in, gave up four to Louisville's second-ranked defense.
Louisville outgained Miami 554-174. A big second quarter by the Cardinals helped Louisville to a 22-2 halftime lead. It was the first time Miami went without a touchdown or field goal in a first half since its 23-20 loss to USF on Nov. 27, 2010.