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 -13
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (10-2, 5-2 Big East): 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): 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.
PREDICTION: Louisville 27, Florida 24