2013 Sugar - Louisville 33, Florida 23

Posted Jan 3, 2013

2012-2013 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2013 Allstate Sugar

2013 Allstate Sugar

Louisville 33, Florida 23

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central 

Sugar Bowl Thoughts
Fiutak | Cirminiello | Johnson | Harrison | Zemek

National Rankings
101st Total Offense 47th
5th Total Defense 25th
74th Scoring Offense 49th
6th Scoring Defense 36th
35th Rushing Offense 98th
6th Run Defense 50th
114th Passing Offense 23rd
13th Passing Defense 19th
5th Turnover Margin 21st
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
F   L
3 Quarterbacks 5
4 RBs 2.5
3 Receivers 3
3 O Line 2.5
4 D Line 3
4 Linebackers 3
5 Secondary 4
5 Spec Teams 1.5
4 Coaching 4
Louisville came out hot, with Terell Floyd returning an interception 38 yards for a score on the first play from scrimmage, and it was never really threatened the rest of the way. Teddy Bridgewater connected with DeVante Parker for a 15-yard touchdown for a 24-3 first half lead, but the Gators came up with a big late drive and a fourth down one-yard touchdown run from Matt Jones with ten seconds to play. With all the momentum on its side, Florida went for the onside kick in the second half, Louisville got it, and scored eight seconds into the half with a 19-yard touchdown catch from Damian Copeland. Down 33-10, Florida made a late rally with Andre Debose returning a kickoff 100 yards for a score, and the offense marching for a late score to pull within ten, but Louisville recovered the onside kick and held on.

Louisville: The Cardinals were+2 in turnover margin and committed just two penalties. … The offense held on to the ball for 35:37. … QB Teddy Bridgewater completed 20-of-32 passes for 266 yards and two scores with a pick. … RB Jeremy Wright ran 25 times for 84 yards and a score. … LB Preston Brown led the team with 13 tackles with a broken up passes and 1.5 tackles for loss.

Florida: QB Jeff Driskel completed 16-of-29 passes for 175 yards and touchdown with two picks, and he ran ten times for four yards. … RB Mike Gillislee ran nine times for 48 yards. … WR Quinton Dunbar made five catches for 77 yards. … Andre Debose returned two kicks for 124 yards and a score. … S Matt Elam made 11 tackles with a sack and a tackle for loss. … DE Dominique Easley made five tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss. … DT Shariff Floyd made five tackles with two sacks and two tackles for loss.

(AP) NEW ORLEANS -- Louisville safety Calvin Pryor predicted the Cardinals would "shock the world" against Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Brave words that he and his teammates backed up from start to finish.

Terell Floyd returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown on the first play, dual-threat quarterback Teddy Bridgewater directed a handful of scoring drives and No. 22 Louisville stunned the fourth-ranked Gators 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday night.

By the end, the chant, "Charlie, Charlie!" -- for third-year Louisville coach Charlie Strong, the former defensive coordinator for the Gators -- echoed from sections of the Superdome occupied by red-clad Cardinals fans.

"They kind of thought we were going to come in and lay down and give them the game," Floyd said. "But Coach Strong always preaches that we're better than any team in the nation if we come out and play hard. Coach Strong believed in us and our coaching staff believed in us and we came in and believed in ourselves

Shaking off an early hit that flattened him and knocked off his helmet, Bridgewater was 20 of 32 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns against the heavily favored Gators. Among his throws was a pinpoint, 15-yard timing toss that DeVante Parker acrobatically grabbed as he touched one foot down in the corner of the end zone.

His other scoring strike went to Damian Copeland from 19 yards one play after a surprise onside kick by the Gators had backfired badly. Jeremy Wright had short touchdown run which gave the two-touchdown underdogs from the Big East a 14-0 lead from which the Gators never recovered.

Florida never trailed by more than 10 points this season, and the Southeastern Conference power had lost only once going into this game. The defeat dropped SEC teams to 3-3 this bowl season, with Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi still left to play.

Louisville and Florida each finished at 11-2.

Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel, who had thrown only three interceptions all season, turned the ball over three times on two interceptions -- both tipped passes -- and a fumble. He finished 16 of 29 for 175 yards.

"I look at this performance tonight, and I sometimes wonder, `Why didn't we do this the whole season," Strong said. "We said this at the beginning: We just take care of our job and do what we're supposed to do, don't worry about who we're playing."

Down 33-10 midway through the fourth period, Florida tried to rally. Andre Debose scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and Driskel threw a TD pass to tight end Kent Taylor with 2:13 left. But when Louisville defenders piled on Driskel to thwart the 2-point try, the game was essentially over.

Florida didn't score until Caleb Sturgis's 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter.

The Gators finally got in the end zone with a trick play in the closing seconds of the half. They changed personnel as if to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1, but lined up in a bizarre combination of swinging-gate and shotgun formations and handed off to Matt Jones.

Jones met only minimal resistance as he crashed into the end zone to cap an 11-play, 74-yard drive that included four straight completions and four straight runs by Driskel.

The Gators tried to keep the momentum with a surprise onside kick to open the third quarter, but not only did Louisville recover, Florida's Chris Johnson was called for a personal foul and ejected for jabbing at Louisville's Zed Evans. That gave Louisville the ball on the Florida 19, from where Bridgewater needed one play to find Copeland for his score.

On the following kickoff, Evans cut down kick returner Loucheiz Purifoy with a vicious low, high-speed hit that shook Purifoy up. Soon after, Driskel was sacked hard from behind and stripped by Pryor.

Louisville's Lorenzo Mauldin recovered on the Florida 4, but the Gators' defense drove the Cardinals backward and forced a missed field goal, but that was one of few morale victories for the frustrated Gators.

After Louisville native Muhammad Ali was on the field for the coin toss, the Cardinals quickly stung the Gators. Floyd, one of nearly three dozen Louisville players from the state of Florida, made the play.

Driskel was looking for seldom-targeted Debose, who'd had only two catches all season. The throw was a bit behind Debose and the receiver tipped it, making for an easy catch and score for Floyd only 15 seconds into the game.

"That play kind of set the tone," Floyd said. "It kind of gave us momentum and we kept it."

Oddly, Louisville had only 10 defenders on the field until only moments before the snap, when safety Jermaine Reve darted out from the sideline and immediately found a Florida receiver to cover.

When Louisville's offense got the ball later in the quarter, the Florida defense, ranked among the best in the nation this season, sought to intimidate the Cardinals with one heavy hit after another.

One blow by Jon Bostic knocked Bridgewater's helmet off moments after he'd floated an incomplete pass down the right sideline. Bostic was called for a personal foul, however, which seemed to get the Cardinals opening drive rolling. Later, Wright lost his helmet during a 3-yard gain and took another heavy hit before he went down.

Louisville kept coming, though.

B.J. Butler turned a short catch into a 23-yard gain down to the Florida 1. Then Wright punched it in to give the Cardinals an early two-TD lead over a team that finished third in the BCS standings, one spot too low to play for a national title in Miami.

Louisville won the Big East berth to this game. They beat Rutgers in late November to virtually lock up the conference title, sealing that win on a late interception by Floyd.

Florida (11-1) vs. Louisville (10-2) Jan. 2, 8:30, ESPN

Here's The Deal … Is Florida really that good? Can Louisville play better than it did down the stretch in the Big East? This is hardly the most scintillating of matchups – it's hard to sell the Big East – but the Cardinals have been resilient and the Gators have had their down moments. For two programs with extremely bright futures – Louisville loses only 11 seniors and Florida loses just 15 – this is a stepping-stone game for 2013.

Okay, so you were probably hoping and assuming that Louisville was going to be off playing Florida State in the Orange Bowl and Oklahoma was going to make the trip to New Orleans, but after Northern Illinois put a wrench into everyone's plans, the Big East is back in the Sugar for the first time since Tim Tebow and the Gators tap-danced on Cincinnati in the 2010 blowout.

It took a while for fans to come around and believe that Florida was the real deal. This isn't the fun ‘n' gun team of past eras in any way, preferring to grind it out with the running game while relying on phenomenal special teams and a suffocating defense, and it's become of the lack of flash that made it hard to jump on the bandwagon.

The Gators beat seven bowl teams including strong, gut-check victories over Texas A&M and LSU to go along with the season-affirming blowout of Florida State, but with the SEC's worst passing attack and a line that gives up way too many sacks, there are a few holes.

The Cardinals are resilient, fighting through two disappointing losses late in the year, and a banged up Teddy Bridgewater, to get by Rutgers to earn the spot in the big game. Led by Bridgewater, the passing game is efficient and effective and the defense is excellent against decent passing teams, but the defensive front is mediocre and the running game disappears at times. Even so, this is a motivated team with the make-up and the talent to pull off a shocking win over a team that doesn't exactly wing the ball around the yard. If the Cardinals can get physical enough on both sides of the line, and if they can keep this close, the team knows how to handle itself.

UofL played in seven games in the last ten decided by a touchdown or less, winning six of them. While there has been a problem with playing up or down to the competition, and there hasn't been anyone on the schedule close to good enough to match up with the Gators, there's enough talent to come away with a key win for the program.

The Cardinals lost to NC State last year in a Belk thriller, but it's been a good bowl team over the last few seasons. However, Florida has been special in the post-season, winning six of its last seven bowls with the lone loss coming in a thrilling, inspirational game against Michigan – it was Lloyd Carr's last game – in the 2008 Capital One. Last year, the Gators beat Ohio State in a fun Gator Bowl, but now the stakes are far higher. With an impressive win, a No. 2 finish is possible.

Players to Watch: Okay, Jeff Driskel, it's time to come up big. Florida's super-recruit of a few years ago has had a simple task throughout this season – don't screw up. With just three interceptions on the season, and with two of those coming in the loss to Georgia, he has been tremendously careful with the ball, making sure his defense and running game can handle most of the work. However, he's able to grind out first downs from time-to-time with his legs, and he's strong at keeping the chains moving through the air. He can't make big mistakes and throwing the ball into the third row from time to time, but he's going to be outplayed by his counterpart.

You've certainly heard the name Teddy Bridgewater, and now it's time to actually see him play. The 6-3, 207-pound sophomore was a steal of a recruit for the program two years ago, and he showed why with tremendous smarts, accuracy and poise for a player of his age. While he can move a bit, he's not a runner and usually moves around to buy time – his game is about making things happen with his arm. Interceptions were a wee bit of an issue over the second half of the year, and he'll have to be ready to catch a beating from the Gator defensive front, but he'll keep fighting and he'll keep pushing the ball to challenge the defense for a full sixty minutes. After throwing three picks in last year's bowl loss to NC State, he'll be looking to make amends.

Florida safety Matt Elam will play a huge role in trying to keep Bridgewater's passing game under wraps. A big hitter with great range and a nose for the ball, he came up with four picks on the year and 65 tackles as a do-it-all playmaker who has to be accounted for on every play and avoided at all costs. While he's not necessarily going to be a spy on Bridgewater, he's going to be in charge of making sure the big plays don't happen across the middle.

Florida will win if … it's able to grind out the clock and keep drives alive. That hasn't been a plus for the team this year, with big problems on third downs, while Louisville, thanks to Bridgewater, is phenomenal on third down conversions and great at grinding down the clock – hanging on to the ball for just under 32 minutes per game. But Florida is better, ranking fifth in the nation averaging over 33 minutes per outing. It's not like either team wants to get into a firefight, but as long as the Gators are able to do what they'd like on offense, the defense should be rested and be able to keep the Cardinals from doing what they need to in terms of ball control.

More than anything else, Florida needs to be Florida on special teams. Louisville has the second-worst punting game in college football and has been miserable in the return game. In what should be a grindy, tough battle, field position will play a big role, and the Gators should be able to tip the field to one side with a phenomenal punting game and dangerous returners. Florida averages 13.8 yards per punt return, while the Cardinals average just 32.4 yards per punt.

Louisville will win if … it can get up early. Florida has proven it can keep the machine working and be patient enough to let the games draw out, while eventually getting the other team to wear down, but Louisville has to win the energy battle right away and must force the Gator O to panic a bit. Florida is a great front runner, but the offensive line gives up way too many sacks and there's no downfield passing game. This offense just doesn't like to get quirky, and it shows. Louisville has to take Florida out of its comfort zone with a few quick-hitting passes to try loosening things up.

Offensively, the Cardinals can't turn the ball over. Florida didn't do anything offensively against South Carolina, but it won 44-11 because of four turnovers. The three takeaways against LSU helped immeasurably, and coming up with five against Florida State turned out to be the difference in the win. Louisville is among the best in the nation at not turning it over with a mere 12 turnovers on the season, and while Bridgewater threw a pick in four of the last five games, it's not like it's been a bit issue. Against Florida, it might just take one big mistake to change the game.

What Will Happen: It's not going to be pretty. Louisville will have a hard time establishing its running game, putting all the pressure on Bridgewater. He'll have a few moments of momentum, but for the most part it'll be the Florida defense that wins most of the battles. The Gator offense will pound, pound and pound some more, and will never take any big shots down the field. Florida will wear Louisville down as the game goes on.

CFN Prediction: Florida 34 … Louisville 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Florida -14 O/U: 45

Sugar Bowl History
2012 Louisville 33, Florida 23
2011 Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26
2010 Florida 51, Cincinnati 24
2009 Utah 31, Alabama 17
2008 Georgia 41, Hawaii 10
2007 LSU 41, Notre Dame 14
2006 West Virginia 38, Georgia 35
2005 Auburn 16, Virginia Tech 13
2004 LSU 21, Oklahoma 14
2003 Georgia 26, Florida State 13
2002 LSU 47, Illinois 34
2001 Miami 37, Florida 20
2000 Florida St 46, Virginia Tech 29
1999 Ohio State 24, Texas A&M 14
1998 Florida State 31, Ohio State 14
1997 Florida 52, Florida State 20
1995 Virginia Tech 28, Texas 10
1995 Florida State 23, Florida 17
1994 Florida 41, West Virginia 7
1993 Alabama 34, Miami 13
1992 Notre Dame 39, Florida 28
1991 Tennessee 23, Virginia 22
1990 Miami 33, Alabama 25
1989 Florida State 13, Auburn 7
1988 Auburn 16, Syracuse 16
1987 Nebraska 30, LSU 15
1986 Tennessee 35, Miami 7
1985 Nebraska 28, LSU 10
1984 Auburn 9, Michigan 7
1983 Penn State 27, Georgia 23
1982 Pittsburgh 24, Georgia 20
1981 Georgia 17, Notre Dame 10
1980 Alabama 24, Arkansas 9
1979 Alabama 14, Penn State 7
1978 Alabama 35, Ohio State 6
1977 Pittsburgh 27, Georgia 3
1975 Alabama 13, Penn State 6
1974 Nebraska 13, Florida 10
1973 Notre Dame 24, Alabama 23
1972 Oklahoma 40, Auburn 22
1972 Oklahoma 14, Penn State 0
1971 Tennessee 34, Air Force 13
1970 Mississippi 27, Arkansas 22
1969 Arkansas 16, Georgia 2
1968 LSU 20, Wyoming 13
1967 Alabama 34, Nebraska 7
1966 Missouri 20, Florida 18
1965 LSU 13, Syracuse 10
1964 Alabama 12, Mississippi 7
1963 Mississippi 17, Arkansas 3
1962 Alabama 10, Arkansas 3
1961 Mississippi 14, Rice 6
1960 Mississippi 21, LSU 0
1959 LSU 7, Clemson 0
1958 Mississippi 39, Texas 7
1957 Baylor 13, Tennessee 7
1956 Georgia Tech 7, Pittsburgh 0
1955 Navy 21, Mississippi 0
1954 Georgia Tech 42, W Virginia 19
1953 Georgia Tech 24, Mississippi 7
1952 Maryland 28, Tennessee 13
1951 Kentucky 13, Oklahoma 7
1950 Oklahoma 35, LSU 0
1949 Oklahoma 14, North Carolina 6
1948 Texas 27, Alabama 7
1947 Georgia 20, North Carolina 10
1946 Oklahoma State 33, St Mary's (Colorado) 13
1945 Duke 29, Alabama 26
1944 Georgia Tech 20, Tulsa 18
1943 Tennessee 14, Tulsa 7
1942 Fordham 2, Missouri 0
1941 Boston Coll 19, Tennessee 13
1940 Texas A&M 14, Tulane 13
1939 TCU 15, Carnegie Mellon 7
1938 Santa Clara 6, LSU 0
1937 Santa Clara 21, LSU 14
1936 TCU 3, LSU 2
1935 Tulane 20, Temple 14