Louisville Cardinals – Teddy Bridgewater Better Than Expected

When a team from the Big East wins a BCS Bowl, especially in the Sugar Bowl against an SEC team and defense, it feels like a BCS Buster. But Louisville are much more than that, and so it their quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.

Louisville became the third double digit underdogs to win a BCS Bowl, following Oklahoma in 2001 and Ohio State in 2003. Still, the Cardinals, at least according to the betting system, have caused the biggest upset ever in a BCS Bowl game, being 14.5 points underdogs heading into the Sugar Bowl.

If people thought Teddy Bridgewater was talented before, shredding the Florida defense with 266 yards and two touchdown passes, leading Louisville to a 33-23 win, including being up by 23 points early in the fourth quarter, he’s definitely going to be carrying Heisman credentials next season. If big schools wanted Charlie Strong to be the man that leads their program to greatness, it just multiplied by some after masterminding a very unlikely victory that might be some sort of page turner and level lifter for the program.

I look at this performance tonight, and I sometimes wonder, `Why didn’t we do this the whole season.’ 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. Strong, leading Louisville to their second win in a BCS Bowl, is 25-14 since taking the job on the red side of Kentucky, winning two consecutive (or part of) conference titles.

And to think it was all about Bridgewater studying some film on how to operate well against that Florida defense he heard so much about. I looked at what did and didn’t work for quarterbacks during the regular season. 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.

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% of their third-down opportunities, all season highs against the Gators. The Gators allowed an average of 12.9 points, 186 passing yards, 282.6 total yards and a 28.3% completion on third down.

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 decided not to blitz early on, and paid dearly for it. Bridgewater started the game with 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.

But it’s never just one aspect. The Florida offense, which has been mediocre all season long with Jeff Driskel just trying not to screw up and leave Mike Gillislee and the others all the work, messed up right from the start. On their first play, Terell Floyd intercepted a tipped Driskel pass, returning it 38 yards for the touchdown. When Florida first got on the board, it was 14-3. When they first got in the red zone, it was the end of the half and 24-10. They wised up and arrived to the Bowl game 30 minutes too late.

With Bridgewater and Strong, this mean can mean much more than the occasional BCS surprise. This could mean that Louisville, along with their departure from the Big East to the ACC, are very close to becoming one of the big boys.

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