"What a way to end the year, playing against your hometown," Bridgewater said. "We've worked hard all season and we're glad that we have a good opponent. We're looking forward to playing those guys."
Expected to leave early for the NFL Draft, where many project him as the top overall pick, Bridgewater has been a key figure in the Cardinals program return to the national discussion. Should he return to U of L, he would completely rewrite most of the program's passing records.
Over the past two seasons, he has directed a team that has compiled one of the best records during that time with a 22-3 mark, including a win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
"The record speaks for itself the past two years, even the past three years," Bridgewater said. "We've been able to do some great things here."
While his on the field accomplishments are well documented, the junior points to his growth as a person as what he's most proud of his three years as a Cardinal.
"I've become a better person than I was when I arrived here," he explained. "I've matured and learned self responsibility. I hold myself accountable and my teammates accountable, just becoming a man."
His head coach agreed.
"He's a total team player, but he also understands that it takes a total team for him to be who he is also," Strong said.
Bridgewater will be the focus of the Miami defense in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Hurricanes head coach Al Golden heaped praise on the Cardinals quarterback on Friday and believes that his defense must disrupt his calm demeanor in the pocket.
"You can't let him throw in rhythm," Golden said. "Obviously you have to get pressure on him and you have to change up the rotation on the looks. He'll pick you apart if you stay in one coverage or if you don't put any pressure on him.
"The thing about Teddy Bridgewater that he probably doesn't get enough credit for are his mechanics are tremendous," Golden continued. "Tremendous balance, tremendous mechanics and really well taught. He's got poise. His completion percentage to interception ratio is phenomenal, so we have to find a way to get pressure on him and we obviously have to make some plays."
While he has yet to make a decision on when to begin his professional career, Strong speaks as if the quarterback won't be back and credits him for managing the offense and improving the play of those around him.
"When you think about it, you look at what Teddy has done for this program," Strong said. "I can remember that first game when we put him in and the ball just kind of fluttered out of his hand and he threw an interception and I said, 'oh my God, is my man any good at all.' Then we go to Kentucky, Will Stein goes down and he comes in and takes over and he's never given up the position since.
"A quarterback is so critical because he leads your offense. He can manage the game and not only make the throws, but he has the leadership ability where he can get everyone surrounding him to play up to their level or even better. He's been fun to watch."
Bridgewater has started 34 of his 38 career games, throwing for 9,370 yards and 69 touchdowns. He ranks among the top five in nearly all school passing records and his 68.0 career completion percentage is tops in program history.