For the first time in the Golden Era the University of Miami will know what it is like to play football after Thanksgiving. Miami will face Teddy Bridgewater and the Louisville Cardinals on December 28 in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. The game will kickoff at 6:45 and be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
"On behalf of the University of Miami, President Shalala, the Board of Trustees, Coach Golden and our football program, we are honored to accept an invitation to play in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl," Miami Athletic Director Blake James said in a prepared statement released to the media. "We're excited to play so close to home and look forward to Hurricanes fans painting Orlando orange and green."
In a release issued by the bowl, Miami coach Al Golden appeared to be pleased with the invitation. Golden is currently on a plane recruiting and is unavailable for immediate comment. He will speak to the press on Monday via conference call.
"We are absolutely thrilled to accept an invitation to play in such a great game like the Russell Athletic Bowl," Golden said. "We've sat out the last two seasons and our players are thankful for the opportunity to play in a bowl game so close to home against a great opponent like Louisville. Orlando and the Citrus Bowl are great football venues and our students, fans and alumni have a great opportunity to attend this year's bowl game."
Miami is also scheduled to face the Cardinals next season as Louisville is set to join the Atlantic Coast Conference on July 1, 2014.
"It's gonna be a positive, a great thing for us in getting a jump on the ACC," Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich said. "The University's the big winner."
The Russell Athletic Bowl will be the 12th series meeting between the schools. Miami holds a 9-1-1 advantage.
Early on Sunday it appeared as though the Canes were a lock for the Chick Fil A Bowl in Atlanta against Georgia or Texas A&M. It has been widely rumored that ACC Commissioner John Swafford lobbied hard for the bowl game to take Duke, who got pummeled by Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. According to social media, the Bowl did not want Duke due to the fact that they had such a poor fan turnout at the ACC title game which was in their own home state. In the end, college football is still a business and Bowl games want to sell tickets.
Louisville coach Charlie Strong is also excited about the opportunity to play a national program like the Canes on a big stage prior to their entrance into the league.
"This is a game they really wanted. This is an opponent that they really wanted," Strong said on Louisville's media teleconference. "We're trying to get to where Miami is at, when you talk about all the national titles. We're trying to get what Miami is.
"Playing a quality opponent in Miami is great for us. We recruit that area heavily," Strong said. One of the players, in particular, is Louisville signal-caller Bridgewater who graduated from MIami Northwestern and was once considered the heir apparent to Jacory Harris, until Randy Shannon was fired and Bridgewater decommitted. Once Bridgewater took back his commitment, many Cane faithful turned against him and let him know it. That opened the door for Stephen Morris to take over the program.
Both quarterbacks graduated from Miami-Dade County high schools and knew each other from camps and all-star games. This could be Bridgewater's last collegiate game as he is expected to leave school early for the NFL Draft.
Miami is allocated 13,500 tickets for the game. Tickets are priced at $77 and $82 and can be purchased through the UM Ticket Office online at CanesTix.com, in person at the Bank United Center or by phone 1-800-GO-CANES.