Sometimes, when big teams don’t get where they think they should be, they tend to take it easier in the “lesser” bowl game. Florida, with only one loss this season thought they deserve a shot at the national title. Louisville, coming out of the crumbling Big East, are just happy they’re keeping their head coach.
Charlie Strong, who was an assistant and defensive coordinator for the Florida Gators between 2002 and 2009, was sought after by quite a few big schools once the regular season ended. It didn’t matter. He feels he has quite a solid foundation and program potential at Louisville, who’ll be moving on to the ACC in 2014.
But chances against Florida? A lot rests on the health and ability of Sophomore quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. He threw for 25 touchdowns to 7 interceptions this season, completing 69% of his passes for 3452 yards. He hasn’t played in about a month, and couldn’t start or take snaps behind center in the win over Rutgers. He still finished with 20 for 28, 263 yards and two touchdowns.
While many are praising his guts and accuracy, the Florida defense is something completely different than anything the Cardinals have seen this year. The Gators rank third nationally in points allowed (12.9 per game), and they’ve given up five passing touchdowns while making 19 interceptions. Not a very easy team to throw the ball against.
Their opponents are limited to only 52% completion ratio and average only 186 yards per game in the air. Johnny Manziel finished with only 173 passing yards when Texas A&M met Florida, although that was just the start of his career, and it picked off once he got more comfortable with what the SEC has to offer.
On offense, Mike Gillislee is the key. The senior running back has 1104 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He finished the season on a high note, running for 140 yards in the 37-26 win against bitter rivals Florida State. The passing game with Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel is very limited, averaging only 19.6 pass attempts per game.
Prediction – Even with a healthy Bridgewater, Florida’s defense is a nightmare for anyone. Louisville don’t have the kind of defense that can keep them in the game if their offense falters. Still, Florida aren’t that efficient offensively. A solid game from Bridgewater, which means a minimum of turnovers, might make this a very tough one for Florida to come out of as winners.