Coverage: ESPN/ESPN 3D
8:30 PM ET, January 2, 2013
MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME, NEW ORLEANS, LA
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 against an SEC power.
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.
More on the Allstate Sugar Bowl
Charlie Strong could've headed off to greener pastures, but he's glad he stayed at Louisville -- especially after the Cardinals' program-defining win over Florida, Edward Aschoff writes. Story
The third-ranked Gators didn't just get beat by Louisville -- they got embarrassed, and it raises questions about their vaunted defense, Michael DiRocco writes. Story
• GatorNation: More on Florida football
By the end, the chant, "Charlie, Charlie!" echoed from sections of the Superdome occupied by red-clad Cardinals fans. It their way of serenading third-year Louisville coach Charlie Strong, the former defensive coordinator for the Gators, who has elevated Cardinals football to new heights and recently turned down a chance to leave behind what he's built for the top job at Tennessee.
"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.
"I looked at what did and didn't work for quarterbacks during the regular season," said Bridgewater, picked as the game's top player. "They faced guys forcing throws ... and coach tells me, `No capes on your back or 'S' on your chest, take what the defense give you.' That's what I took. Film study was vital."
His other scoring strike went to Damian Copeland from 19 yards one play after a surprise onside kick by the Gators 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 team 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.
"We got outcoached and outplayed," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "That's what I told the football team. That's the bottom line."
Louisville and Florida each finished at 11-2.
Gators Bowled Over
Louisville became the first team to score 30 points against Florida this season. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 266 yards while the Cardinals gained 336 yards of total offense and converted 64.3 percent of their third-down opportunities, all season highs against the Gators.
Florida Defense This Season
|1st 12 Games||Sugar Bowl|
|3rd down||28.3 pct.||64.3 pct.|
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
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.
"We game-planned it and felt good about it," Muschamp said of the onside kick attempt. "We wanted to steal a possession at the start of the second half."
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.
"Just coming up to this point, we had the right attitude, had the right mindset that we would go out and beat this team," Pryor said.
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.
"I threw it behind him, (he) tried to make a play on it, tipped it right to the guy," Driskel said. "Unfortunate to start the game like that."
It made 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."
SVP & Russillo
Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo talk about Louisville's win over Florida and explain why it's lunacy to believe that this game is an indictment of the entire SEC.
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. The Cardinals beat Rutgers in late November to virtually lock up the conference title, sealing that win on a late interception by Floyd.
It was over when... Louisville cornerback Andrew Johnson intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone and returned it 22 yards early in the fourth quarter.
Gameball goes to... Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, who shredded Florida's defense, completing 20 of 32 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat of the game... Third down: Louisville was fantastic on third down and Florida wasn't. The Cardinals went 9-for-14 while Florida went 3-for-10.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||9-14||3-10|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-1|
|TD||14:45||Terell Floyd 38 Yd Interception Return (John Wallace Kick)||7||0|
|TD||06:47||Jeremy Wright 1 Yd Run (John Wallace Kick)||14||0|
|FG||14:50||Caleb Sturgis 33 Yd||14||3|
|FG||08:39||John Wallace 27 Yd||17||3|
|TD||02:57||DeVante Parker 15 Yd Pass From Teddy Bridgewater (John Wallace Kick)||24||3|
|TD||00:10||Matt Jones 1 Yd Run (Caleb Sturgis Kick)||24||10|
|TD||14:52||Damian Copeland 19 Yd Pass From Teddy Bridgewater (Pat Blocked)||30||10|
|FG||07:54||John Wallace 30 Yd||33||10|
|TD||07:41||Andre Debose 100 Yd Kickoff Return (Caleb Sturgis Kick)||33||17|
|TD||02:13||Kent Taylor 5 Yd Pass From Jeff Driskel (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed)||33||23|
Florida had three turnovers in the Sugar Bowl. In the Gators' two losses this season, they had nine turnovers and gave up 20 points off turnovers. In their 11 wins, they had six turnovers and allowed 17 points off turnovers.
Teddy Bridgewater completed 3-of-4 passes thrown 15 yards or longer in the Sugar Bowl, including two touchdowns. Florida entered as the lone AQ team to not allow a touchdown on such a pass this season.[+]
Florida Pass Defense vs Throws of 15+ Yards
Florida sent four or fewer pass rushers on Teddy Bridgewater's first 11 dropbacks. Bridgewater completed 8-of-9 passes for 108 yards and ran for eight more yards on those plays. He finished the game completing 83.3 percent of his passes with a touchdown against four or fewer pass rushers. Florida did make an adjustment, sending a blitz on over half of Bridgewater's dropbacks in the second half, but Louisville had built too large of a lead to overcome.[+]
Teddy Bridgewater Passing
Teddy Bridgewater completed 7-of-11 passes on third down against Florida. All seven completions resulted in a first down, including six with 5 yards or more to go. Entering the game, Florida ranked second in FBS allowing opponents to convert on 23.2 percent of third downs through the air.[+]
Florida Pass Defense on 3rd Down
The Big East had a 4-way tie at the top of the standings. 3 of those teams won their bowl game, all by double digits. The only one that lost was Rutgers, which fell to Virginia Tech in overtime after blowing a 10-0 4th quarter lead.[+]
Big East Co-Champions - This Bowl Season
According to news reports, Louisville is the third double-digit underdog to win a BCS game. Oklahoma was an 11.5-point underdog in the 2001 Orange Bowl against FSU and Ohio State was a 12-point underdog in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl against Miami (FL). However, Louisville's win over Florida on Wednesday was the biggest upset in a BCS game.[+]
Double Digit Underdogs - To Win BCS Game
In the Sugar Bowl, Louisville became the 1st FBS team to score a touchdown within the 1st 15 seconds of each half over the last 10 seasons. The INT return TD by Terell Floyd occurred at the 14:45 mark of the 1st quarter and the TD pass from Teddy Bridgewater to Damian Copeland occurred at the 14:52 mark of the 3rd.
ESPN Stats & Information