Louisville Cardinals vs. Florida Gators (-14, 45.5)
WHEN: 8:30 PM ET, Wednesday, January 2, 2013
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL GAME STORYLINES
1. No. 4 Florida looks to cap a near-perfect season with its fifth consecutive bowl victory as it faces No. 18 Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. This will be the seventh time the Gators have played in a BCS bowl - the highest number of BCS appearances among SEC teams and tied for third-best in the nation. With a win, Florida's all-time BCS bowl win total would increase to five, giving it the highest total in the history of the BCS.
2. The Cardinals edged out Rutgers in the Big East title game on a late field goal by freshman John Wallace to secure their first appearance in the Sugar Bowl and the second BCS appearance in school history. With an upset over Florida, Louisville will reach 11 wins for the first time since 2006 and will move to 2-0 all-time in BCS bowls.
3. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Florida running back Mike Gillislee figure to be focal points in a matchup that features a stifling Gator defense on one side and its Cardinal counterpart that struggled against the run. Bridgewater led the Big East with a 161.6 passer rating that ranked seventh in the nation, tossing for 3,452 yards and 25 touchdowns. Florida ranked fifth in the nation in total defense and limited opponents to an average of just over 186 yards per game through the air. Gillislee averaged 92 yards on the ground and had 10 touchdowns for Florida, which ranked third in the SEC in rushing offense, while only Temple (199.4 yards per game) allowed a higher rushing average than Louisville (151.1) among Big East schools.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: Florida opened at -15 and was bet up to -15.5 before coming down as low as -13.5. The total has stayed steady at 45.5.
CONSENSUS: 63 percent of Covers Consensus picks are on Florida while 63 percent are on the over.
* Cardinals are 35-17 ATS in their last 52 non-conference games.
* Gators are 22-9 ATS in their last 31 non-conference games.
* Over is 4-1 in Cardinals last five bowl games.
* Over is 5-2 in Gators last seven bowl games.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (10-2, 5-2 Big East, 5-7 ATS): The Cardinals were 10-game winners for the fifth time in school history and on each of the previous four occasions, they have gone on to win their bowl game. They stand a chance against the Gators, if for no other reason than the fact that Florida had legitimate scares against the likes of Bowling Green, Missouri and Louisiana-Lafayette this season. The Cardinals led the Big East, averaging 31 points per game but obviously face a stiff test against the Gators' defense. Running back Jeremy Wright, who took over when Senorise Perry was lost for the season, managed only 89 yards in Louisville's final three games. The Cardinals will hope for a turnaround, and establishing a semblance of a run game would go along way toward opening things up for Bridgewater under center.
ABOUT FLORIDA (11-1, 7-1 SEC, 7-5 ATS): The Gators played six games this season decided by one score and prevailed in all but one. In their win over Florida State, the defense was the difference, forcing a season-high five turnovers in a 37-26 final. Florida led the SEC in turnover margin, tied with Mississippi State at plus-17, ranking fifth in the nation. If the Gators force trouble for Louisville, the odds are decidedly in their favor. Florida, which committed only 12 turnovers this season, was plus-20 in 11 wins and minus-3 in a 17-9 loss to Georgia. In a tight game, the Gators have a big weapon in kicker Caleb Sturgis, whose 23 field goals ranked fourth among FBS kickers.