Big East Defeats SEC In Big Easy: Louisville Slugs Florida
The 2013 AllState Sugar Bowl placed the #21 Louisville Cardinals traveling to the Superdome in NOLA to face the #3 Florida Gators. This is just the 2nd time that Louisville has made it into a BCS bowl, winning their only other appearance defeating Wake Forest 24-13 at the Orange Bowl in 2007. It was the Gators 7th BCS appearance, boasting a 5-1 record with their only loss coming at the Sugar Bowl in 2001 and their last victory was Tim Tebow’s final collegiate game, beating Cincinnati 51-24 in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. Many argued that the Florida Gators could have played for the National Championship because they had the same amount of wins in the SEC as ‘Bama and their schedule was more difficult.
That being said the matchup between the Cardinals and the Gators seemed like it was going to be a Florida blowout. No reason to watch this game, the Gators were going to roll and the SEC was supposed to go 9-0 in bowl games this year, including the National Championship. Three years ago Charlie Strong left his position with the Florida Gators as defensive coordinator to take over as head coach of Louisville. Since then he has led the Cardinals to 3 straight bowl games and on Wednesday he had a chance for the biggest victory of his career against his former employer.
It was Charlie’s strong defense that was the difference in this game as they absolutely dominated Florida. The very first pass for Gators QB Jeff Driskel was tipped and intercepted by Terell Floyd who returned the pass 38 yards for a touchdown. Louisville had a touchdown lead just 15 seconds into the game and their offense hadn’t even hit the field. It was a tough night for Driskel who had just 3 interceptions all season long. He would turn the ball over 3 times in this game, 2 interceptions albeit off of tipped passes, along with a fumble lost. Driskel threw for just 175 yards and a single touchdown to tight end Kent Taylor with just over 2 minutes left in the game.
Louisville’s young QB Teddy Bridgewater threw for 266 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception while orchestrating his team to a 33-10 lead in the 4th quarter. The most impressive pitch and catch of the night came when Bridgewater threaded a needle getting the football to WR DeVante Parker. Parker made an athletic catch as he was able to pull in the ball, retain possession and get one foot down in the corner of the end-zone. This performance from the sophomore QB may just be the beginning of his time in the national spotlight. Bridgewater may likely become a top QB prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft and will definitely come into next season as an early Heisman favorite.
Trailing for most of the game the Gators were unable to use their biggest playmaker on offense, RB Mike Gillislee. He rushed the ball just 9 times for 48 yards in what is going to be his last game in a Florida Gators uniform. The senior running back is just another 2013 prospect that underperformed in his bowl game. Gators defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and safety Matt Elam have said that they will forgo their senior season to enter this year’s NFL Draft. Defenisve end Dominique Easley and tight end Jordan Reed have yet to make up their minds. The biggest prospects for the Cardinals that will be Teddy Bridgewater’s center Mario Benavides and cornerback Adrian Bushell.