Among the many story lines surrounding the Russell Athletic Bowl is the meeting between two programs that will be conference rivals starting this summer.
Saturday's game will provide the University of Louisville a test of where it stands just months before making the move to its new conference. The Hurricanes are a team that have enjoyed the pinnacle of success and are traditionally one of the ACC football powers.
"I think about the tradition and what they've built," fourth-year head coach Charlie Strong said of Miami. "That's what we are trying to get to and we know that we still have a long ways to go. This is going to be a measuring stick for us as we go into the ACC next season. It will be an opponent that will be on our schedule, so we'll see just how far we have to go."
U of L will officially become a member of the ACC on July 1, 2014. The school brings with it many successes spanning multiple sports during recent years, climaxing last year with the 'Year of the Cardinal.'
"It's a great addition for the Atlantic Coast Conference, it really is," UM head coach Al Golden said of the Cardinals on Friday afternoon. "It's making us stronger in every aspect, in every sport, but certainly from a football standpoint, from a men's and women's basketball standpoint, baseball. It's going to make us really strong. We're excited to have them in.
"You know, we have to do our part," Golden continued. "We have to continue to move and get better and that's going to help the national appeal of the ACC. But certainly I think Louisville coming in is going to help us an the brand recognition now from Boston down to Key West is really going strong for us in terms of television sets and population density. It's going to make us strong and I think Louisville is going to help us with that."
Strong realizes the stage is one that will not only have the attention of the nation, but will also be closely watched by the Cardinals future league opponents. His hope is that his squad will send a message that the program is ready to compete immediately in its new conference.
"We'd like to show to the other conference opponents that we'll play that we can compete in this conference."