USA TODAY Sports
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater passed for nearly 3,500 yards and 25 TDs this season. The Florida native takes his talents to the Big Easy to see if he can make a dent in the formidable defense of the Florida Gators.
New Year's Day has come and gone. But that doesn't mean the college football season is over. We still have bowls to play!
Tonight, a BCS bowl is on tap, as the Big East champion Louisville Cardinals take on the SEC's Florida Gators at the Superdome. Will Florida have its way with Louisville in the Big Easy? The Gators somewhat quietly went 11-1 this season and was in the discussion for possibly sneaking into the picture for the BCS National Championship Game. Florida couldn't get into that crystal football of power game, but it got a pretty good consolation prize.
Since ESPN is televising this bad boy, I'll let the Worldwide Leader give you a preview:
Louisville is a clear underdog in the Sugar Bowl, but the Cardinals can already claim one major victory over an SEC team this postseason.
Charlie Strong's decision to stay with the school also sets up an intriguing reunion Wednesday in New Orleans.
The former Florida defensive coordinator leads No. 22 Louisville against the fourth-ranked Gators, who are looking for their fifth straight win in a BCS bowl.
Strong's success at Louisville (10-2) made him one of the hot names in this year's coaching carousel, but he turned down an offer from Tennessee to stay with the Cardinals, who are moving from the Big East to the ACC in 2014.
"You look at those jobs, but I have a great job here," said Strong, who shared the Big East coach of the year award with Rutgers' Kyle Flood. "The stability of this program is always going to be solid and they're going to do everything to make this one of the best programs in the country."
Strong helped Florida (11-1) remain among the nation's best programs in recent years. He's had four different stints on the Gators' staff, most significantly running their defense from 2003-09 -- a stretch that included a pair of BCS titles.
"It's a program of excellence and I really enjoyed my time there," he said. "I watch that program every week.
"I'm just happy for this program to get to a BCS bowl game," Strong said about Louisville. "I don't really know if it really matters who we play. I love the University of Florida but I'm just so happy for our players."
Louisville took a circuitous path to this game, starting 9-0 before dropping back-to-back contests to Syracuse and Connecticut. The Cardinals then fell behind 14-3 at halftime at Rutgers in the regular-season finale Nov. 29, but they recovered to win 20-17 to earn a share of the Big East title and the conference's BCS bid.
Led by first-team All-America safety Matt Elam, the Gators rank third nationally in points allowed (12.9 per game), and they've given up five passing touchdowns while making 19 interceptions.
Their opponents completed 51.2 percent of their passes for just 186.0 yards per game. Florida held eventual Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel to a season-low 173 passing yards in beating Texas A&M in September.
All-SEC running back Mike Gillislee is another huge reason the Gators are back in a BCS bowl after going 7-6 in Muschamp's first season in Gainesville last year. With Florida's passing attack often quiet, Gillislee piled up 1,104 yards and 10 touchdowns to power one of the SEC's top ground games.
Will tonight be SEC domination or a feather in the cap of the Big East?
This is your open thread. Comment while you watch! Enjoy the game.