University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong and his staff rebuilt the Cardinals' program with a heavy focus on players from the Miami area.
With many key players from the area, the Cardinals have posted back-to-back 11-win seasons and have earned a bowl bid four consecutive seasons since Strong took over.
Now, in order to take the next step of getting a 12-win season and winning back-to-back bowl games the Cardinals must face Miami, Fla.
Louisville and Miami will square off in the Russell Athletic Bowl to be played on Dec. 28 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The game will kickoff at 6:45 p.m.
"We're excited and this is great for us," Strong said. "We recruit the Miami-area heavily. We have a lot of guys from that area and now they know they have an opportunity to face (Miami)."
U of L (11-1) will play the Hurricanes in the finale of the '13 season and are expected to open the '14 season - the first in the ACC - at home against the Hurricanes.
"I don't know where we will play them on the schedule next year, but I know how much coach Strong and his staff respects (Miami)," U of L athletic director Tom Jurich said. "The great thing for us is that we get a jump start on the ACC. It's wonderful for everyone involved."
While the players said they didn't mind whatever opponent they faced, you can bet the Miami name will get them fired up. Some of the players - including starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater - were recruited by Miami. Bridgewater was once committed to Miami.
Strong says U of L has 23-25 players from the Miami-area. He hasn't talked to team yet but for man "this was the game they wanted to play."
Miami holds a 9-1-1 record in the series with the last meeting a 31-7 U of L win in 2006.
U of L is ranked No. 16 in the USA Today Coaches poll and No. 18 in the AP poll, while Miami is ranked No. 25 by the coaches.
Strong said he will give the players - who are finishing up finals early this week - a few days off before starting up practice again.