Sugar Bowl Preview Capsule
No. 4 Florida (11-1) vs. No. 22 Louisville (10-2), 8:30 p.m. EST (ESPN)
Line: Florida by 14.
Series record: Florida leads 2-0.
What’s at stake: Florida missed out on playing for the national title because of its loss to Georgia, but still could finish in the top three in the nation with a convincing victory. Louisville is making its first appearance in the Sugar Bowl and second in a BCS bowl, and could provide coach Charlie Strong with a significant boost in recruiting momentum by upsetting the Gators of the Southeastern Conference.
Key matchup: Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater against Florida’s highly rated defense. Bridgewater ranks eighth in the nation in pass efficiency and averages 287.7 yards passing. Florida’s defense ranks fifth nationally in yards allowed, third in scoring defense and first in pass defense efficiency.
Players to watch: Florida — RB Mike Gillislee is the star of Florida’s offense. He has rushed for 1,104 yards and 10 TDs this season. He also is a threat on short passes, having caught 15 for 146 yards and a score.
Louisville — WR DeVante Parker has 712 yards and nine TDs receiving. RB Jeremy Wright leads the Cardinals with 186 carries for 740 yards.
Facts and figures: The Gators, making their 40th bowl appearance and ninth in the Sugar Bowl, have won a school-record four straight bowls, a streak that dates to their Jan. 8, 2009, BCS title victory over Oklahoma. ... Florida is competing in its eighth straight bowl overall. ... The Gators have been to six previous BCS bowls, winning five, and with another victory in the Sugar Bowl would have more BCS bowl victories than any program in the nation.
... The 2012 Gators are the fifth Florida team to win 11 regular-season games. ... Louisville coach Charlie Strong was Florida’s defense coordinator from 2003-09, which spanned the Gators’ past two national titles in the 2006 and 2008 seasons. ... Louisville is appearing in its second BCS Bowl. The first came after the 2006 season, when the Cardinals beat Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl to finish 12-1. ... Louisville seeks to reach the 11-win mark for the fourth time in school history. ... Louisville’s only previous meetings with Florida came in Gainesville in 1980, a 13-0 loss, and 1992, a 31-17 defeat. ... Louisville is the Big East champion, clinching its spot in a BCS bowl with a 20-17 victory over Rutgers on Nov. 29. ... Louisville has scored an average of 31 points per game, while Florida has given up an average of 12.9 points.