TEMPE, Ariz. -- No. 16 Louisville used New Year's Day to stage a coming-out party. And what a party it was.
Browning Nagle threw for a record 451 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Anthony Cummings, and the Cardinals erupted for 25 first-quarter points on the way to a 34-7 Fiesta Bowl romp over No. 22 Alabama.
The Cardinals were playing their first game on New Year's Day and only their fourth bowl in history. Louisville last made a postseason appearance in the 1977 Independence Bowl, losing 24-14 to Louisiana Tech. Their other bowl appearances were in the 1970 Pasadena Bowl and the 1958 Sun Bowl.
'I don't ever remember being prouder of a football team than today,' said Cardinals Coach Howard Schnellenberger, who won a national championship at Miami in 1983 before taking over a moribund Louisville program two years later.
'To have performed as well as we did on national television, I have to be proud of the players and the staff. Coming to this bowl game was a quantum leap for our program.'
Nagle completed 20 of 33 passes on the day, breaking the Fiesta Bowl record of 422 yards set last year by Florida State's Peter Tom Willis. Louisville's 25 points in the first quarter also set a Fiesta Bowl record.
Nagle found Cummings on a 37-yard TD pass in the first quarter and on a 19-yard scoring strike in the third as Louisville completed its best season ever at 10-1-1. His 451 yards passing was the most ever against Alabama.
'We had a lot of super reads, so Browning had us in the right play just about every down,' Schnellenberger said. 'The fact he was more accurate than he's ever been was a big help and that came from having the receivers at the right place and getting time to throw theball.'
Nagle, named the game's MVP, said it was 'a great pleasure to win it by such a large margin. It's a great tribute to this program. It shows we have arrived.'
Alabama, 7-5, got its only score on a 49-yard interception return by Charles Gardner. The Crimson Tide twice drove deep into Louisville territory, but were stopped once by an interception and once on downs. In addition, All-America kicker Philip Doyle missed field-goal attempts of 46 and 49 yards.
Alabama quarterback Gary Hollingsworth completed 10 of 23 passes for 59 yards with an interception before being removed from the game.
'We played defensively very poorly today,' Alabama Coach Gene Stallings said. 'We were not tackling very well. And Louisville did a good job early and took advantage of some of our mistakes.'
Nagle completed 9 of 16 passes for 223 yards in the first quarter, when Louisville ran out to a 25-0 lead.
Nagle was intercepted on Louisville's first series of the game, but came back two possessions later to tie a Fiesta Bowl record witha 70- yard touchdown pass to Latrell Ware. Nagle's throw was juggled by Ware, who brought it under control and broke a tackle before rambling untouched up the right sideline.
The pass tied the bowl record set in the 1985 by Arizona State's Todd Hons to Alvin Moore against Oklahoma.
Chris Anderson fumbled on the Crimson Tide's next possession and Ray Buchanan recovered for Louisville at the Alabama 27. The Crimson Tide stopped Louisville in three plays, but Byron Holdbrooks jumped offside on Klaus Wilmsmeyer's field-goal attempt to give the Cardinals a first down.
A throwback pass from wide receiver Curtis Lipsey to Nagle gained 8 yards, and Nagle later threw to Ralph Dawkins for 18 yards. Dawkins then completed the drive with a 5-yard TD run. Wilmsmeyer's extra-point attempt was blocked by Holdbrooks, leaving the score 13-0.
William Blackford intercepted a Gary Hollingsworth pass for Louisville on Alabama's next series, leading to Nagle's 37-yard TD pass to Cummings. The receiver made an over-the-shoulder catch just before hitting the goalpost, but emerged unhurt. Nagle threw out of the end zone on the two-point conversion.
The Cardinals increased their margin to 25-0 with one second left in the first quarter when Ray Buchanan scored a TD on a blocked punt. Ricky McFadden blocked Tank Williamson's kick and Buchanan fell on the ball in the end zone. Again, the two-point conversion failed.
Alabama pulled within 25-7 with 7:32 left before halftime on Gardner's interception return on a pass by Jeff Brohm, who relieved Nagle for two series at the beginning of the second quarter.
Louisville pushed its lead to 32-7 with 10:12 left in the third quarter when Nagle found Cummings in the corner of the end zone with a 19-yard TD pass.
Alabama staged a drive behind backup quarterback Danny Woodson but was stopped on downs. Facing fourth-and-3 from the Louisville 7, Woodson was stopped just short on a scramble.
Louisville drove nearly the length of the field after taking possession, but was held on downs at the Alabama 3. Two plays later, the Cardinals scored a safety when Woodson was flagged for intentional grounding from the end zone. Facing a heavy rush, Woodson fired a dump pass into the back of an offensive lineman.