Louisville (10-2) vs. Florida (11-1)
Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
About the Cardinals: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is the reason Louisville is in the Sugar Bowl. Despite a severely sprained ankle and a broken wrist, Bridgewater came off the bench and led his team to a come-from-behind victory against Rutgers to secure the BCS berth. It was a gutsy performance and one that makes you think the Cardinals might just have a chance in this game. This season, the sophomore has completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,452 yards and 25 touchdowns. We’ll see if the month off has helped Bridgewater heal. He wasn’t able to take snaps under center against Rutgers because of his wrist and shotgun snaps and handing the ball off made for an adventure. But if he’s even 70 percent, he’ll give Louisville a chance to pull off the upset.
About the Gators: Florida didn't look great down the stretch following its loss to Georgia. Even though the Gators were 4-0 in that span, all but one of the games was against an inferior opponent and they were all a little close for comfort. If Florida is going to beat Louisville, it’s running game is going to have to show up. Mike Gillislee is the first Florida running back to rush for 1,000 yards since 2004 and if he’s running well, the offense seems to move seamlessly. Couple in the running ability of quarterback Jeff Driskel and the running game is the Gators most potent offensive weapon. Florida’s pass defense also will need to be stout against a team that likes to air it out. The Gators have limited opponents to a 51.2 completion rate and an average of just 186 yards per game.
This is Florida’s seventh trip to a BCS bowl and they are 5-1 in previous games. Only Oklahoma and Ohio State have played in more BCS games. The Gators handled Big East champion Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl a few years ago.
The breakdown: No one is picking Louisville to win this game because Florida has shown all season that it is one of the most talented teams in the game. However, with a month to prepare and Bridgewater getting healthy, the Cardinals will put up a fight and will make this a game, The key for Louisville will be containing the running game while Florida will have to find a way to get to Bridgewater. This game might end up being more of a defensive chess match than an offensive shootout, but Louisville will have to be at its best if it wants to pull off the upset.
Frank Schwab: Florida 21, Louisville 17
I like Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater to keep his team in the game until the end. Florida is a great defensive team that doesn't move the ball up and down the field. They are generally fine grinding out close, low-scoring games, and that's what the Sugar Bowl will be.
Graham Watson: Florida 28, Louisville 17
While Louisville will put up a fight, Florida’s firepower is going to be too much to contain. Bridgewater is still going to be a little beaten up and Florida will try to exploit that. If the Gators running games is going, they should win this game easily.
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