|John Raoux / Associated Press|
|Teddy Bridgewater passed for a career-high 447 yards and three TDs and rushed for a TD in the Russell Athletic Bowl.|
Louisville junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater played what he called one of his best games in throwing for a career-high 447 yards and three touchdowns Saturday night, leading the Cardinals to a 36-9 rout of Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Whether his sterling performance came in his final college game is the question. In a postgame interview on the field, Bridgewater, who graduated earlier this month, told ESPN that he would meet with his coaches and his family before making a decision on whether to enter the draft. If he chooses to go pro, he will be a prime contender to be the No. 1 overall pick in the May draft.
"I have until Jan. 15," Bridgewater said, referring to the underclassmen draft-declaration deadline. "We want to celebrate tonight's victory, and each of us, whether it's seniors or underclassmen -- we all have decisions to make. But for tonight we wanted to focus on this game and get this game out of the way. Celebrate it and enjoy this moment."
Bridgewater finished the season with 31 touchdowns -- a school single-season record -- and just four interceptions. After completing 35 of his 45 pass attempts, he raised his completion percentage to 70.96, leaping past East Carolina's Shane Carden for No. 1 in the FBS. The completions total was one shy of tying a career high.
Bridgewater showed off his entire arsenal Saturday night, including his first rushing touchdown of the season. He rolled left, he rolled right, he stood comfortably in the pocket, he moved around in the pocket -- no matter what he did, he usually hit his target. He was 19 of 26 for 231 yards and two TDs in the first half and 16 of 19 for 216 yards and a touchdown in the second half. He also did a nice job spreading the ball around, completing passes to 10 receivers.
"I played against him in high school," Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman told reporters afterward. "He pretty much did the same thing, just a lot better."
As well as he played, Bridgewater probably should've completed at least three more passes -- he overthrew two open receivers and underthrew another. Bridgewater also took a sack for a safety early in the first quarter, giving Miami a short-lived 2-0 lead; he had time to get rid of the ball but looked as if he was trying to wait for an open receiver.
Bridgewater was the first quarterback to throw for 400 yards on the Hurricanes this season.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.