ORLANDO -- During a long, painful NCAA ordeal, the Miami Hurricanes self-imposed bowl bans in 2011 and 2012.
Their first trip back to the postseason was equally excruciating.
With the help of a gifted quarterback that chose Louisville over his hometown Canes, the Cardinals embarrassed Miami 36-9 on Saturday in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
“Obviously, disappointed,” UM coach Al Golden said. “We got beat in all three phases. There are no excuses.”
Junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the former Miami Northwestern star who committed to play for the Canes in high school before former coach Randy Shannon was fired, completed 35 of 45 passes for a career-high 447 yards and three touchdowns. He ran for another.
To give Bridgewater an extra-special farewell and Miami more misery, Louisville had the quarterback run a keeper on fourth-and-1 with 12:19 left at the Citrus Bowl. The 21-year-old swept right and, naturally, into the end zone, as Louisville fans roared “Ted-dy! Ted-dy! Ted-dy!”
Bridgewater, embraced by teammates, threw up the “U” and quickly criss-crossed his hands in a “No way” sort of motion, ending it with what appeared to be a semi throat-slashing gesture.
“I would just like to apologize to the University of Miami,” Bridgewater said after the game. “I was out of line doing that.”
He will now decide whether to leave early for the NFL. If he does, he is expected to be the first quarterback taken in the draft — and possibly No. 1 overall.
Saturday’s performance, witnessed by 51,098 fans, enhanced that possibility.
“This moment right here is all about the team,” said Bridgewater, who wouldn’t give a time frame on when he would make his decision.
Miami junior tight end Clive Walford, who led the Canes with four catches for 82 yards, had been contemplating turning pro but said after the game he decided after the second catch to return.
The Hurricanes ended their season at 9-4 and failed to reach 10 victories for the third time while having the chance since they last did it with 11 wins in 2003.
No. 18 Louisville finished 12-1.
With the loss, Miami has gone from 6-6 to 7-5 to this nine-win campaign in Golden’s three seasons.
Golden said that despite the way the season ended, he was “really proud of Stephen [Morris] and this group of seniors and what they’ve been through and what they’ve endured in moving us forward. We’re going to miss them greatly for all that they’ve contributed and for their leadership through a really tough three years.”
It was a horrible day for Miami’s offense, which generated 174 yards — 14 of those on the ground. The Canes were 0 for 11 on third-down-conversion attempts.
Morris completed 12 of 27 passes for 160 yards in his career finale. He was sacked four times.
“Obviously, it wasn’t a performance I wanted to have, this being my last game here,” Morris said. “Give credit to Louisville.”
The Canes defense allowed 554 yards. It was the sixth time in the past eight games that Miami gave up at least 500 yards.
Louisville converted 8 of 14 third-down attempts.
When asked if he would evaluate the staff and perhaps make changes, Golden said: “I’m going to evaluate the whole program.”
It started out so promising for Miami on Saturday.
The Hurricanes created a buzz on Louisville’s second offensive play when Deon Bush flattened Bridgewater in the end zone for a safety during the Cards’ opening possession. Miami led 2-0 with 11:51 left in the first quarter. UM’s Pat O’Donnell, the nation’s No. 3 punter, set up the score with a beautiful punt that just died on the 2-yard line.
UM took the kickoff and went three-and-out.
The Cardinals then scored nine consecutive points on field goals of 36 and 43 yards in the opening quarter and 42 yards with 12:47 left in the first half. At that point, Bridgewater had completed 9 of 14 passes for 106 yards.
Miami had a hard time protecting Morris and harder time getting its offense to click.
Bridgewater, on the other hand, despite his team’s early ineptitude with numerous penalties, kept moving the Cardinals toward the end zone. Finally, midway through the second quarter, he hit DeVante Parker with a 26-yard touchdown pass — UM freshman cornerback Artie Burns was boxed out by Parker.
The Cardinals led 16-2 with 7:10 left in the half.
All-American defensive end Marcus Smith pummeled Morris on the ensuing drive, causing him to lose the ball. Brandon Dunn recovered for the Cards, but Louisville was finally stopped and forced to punt.
After an uncharacteristic 20-yard shank by O’Donnell, Louisville took over at its own 40-yard line with enough time left — 1:45 — to pad its lead. Leave it to Bridgewater to make it happen. On third-and-6 from the 44, Bridgewater made one of his trademark escapes and scrambled from a charging Shayon Green, then Tyriq McCord. Finally, he beat Tracy Howard in coverage with a 21-yard completion to Damian Copeland.
Three plays later, Bridgewater hit junior Michaelee Harris — also out of Miami Northwestern — for the 12-yard TD. John Wallace missed the extra point, but the Cardinals led 22-2 with 30 seconds left in the half.