By now, most folks have heard that the University of Louisville’s football team has received an invitation to play in the 79th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl against Florida on Wednesday, January 2, 2013. The game will be televised by ESPN starting at 8:30 p.m. EST from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
"We are extremely excited for the opportunity to play an outstanding Florida team in the Sugar Bowl," Vice President/Director of Athletics Tom Jurich said. "This is a great match-up of two top-20 teams and is going to be a great test for our football team. This is a great reward for an outstanding season. Charlie Strong and his staff did a remarkable job with this young team to get to a BCS game, and New Orleans is a great destination. We know from being in the Final Four last year that New Orleans is an outstanding city.”
The Cardinals (10-2, 5-2 Big East) finished the regular season ranked 18th in the USA Today Coaches Poll and 22nd in the Associated Press Poll. In its last game, Louisville came from behind to post a 20-17 victory at Rutgers and ensure the Cardinals their second-straight Big East title. With the win, Louisville posted its fourth double-digit win total in school history.
But Florida fans who are predicting a blowout might be in for a big surprise. The Cardinals have shown bits and pieces of solid football play this season, and have been waiting for a big moment to show that there is actual talent in the Big East. The game may be a lot closer than most “experts” expect.
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is reliable and capable of leading the Cardinals into a major upset. The sophomore completed 69 percent of his passes this year, and produced 33 plays of over 25 yards; good enough to be named Big East Offensive Player of the Year.
Bridgewater showed that he has heart and a passion to win, as he led the Cardinals in a come from behind victory against Rutgers. Despite a broken left wrist and sprained right ankle, he ended up completing 20 of 28 passes for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the comeback victory.
Bridgewater is receiving a lot of national attention as an elite quarterback, and with him leading the Cardinals, the team certainly has an outside shot to pull off the upset.
Of course, Florida is a national championship contender, having beaten three teams ranked inside the top 10 of the polls in one season. But the Gators barely beat Missouri, needed a blocked punt to prevent overtime against Louisiana-Lafayette and had trouble pulling away against Jacksonville State.
This year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl will mark U of L’s 17th bowl appearance. In the past 16 bowl games, the Cardinals won 7, lost 8, and tied one. Here are the stats:
- Jan. 1, 1958 Sun Bowl- Louisville 34, Drake 20
- Dec. 19, 1970 Pasadena Bowl- Louisville 24, Long Beach St. 24, tie
- Dec. 17, 1977 Independence Bowl- La. Tech 24, Louisville 14
- Jan. 1, 1991 Fiesta Bowl- Louisville 34, Alabama 7
- Dec. 28, 1993 Liberty Bowl- Louisville 18, Michigan St. 7
- Dec. 23, 1998 Motor City Bowl- Marshall 48, Louisville 29
- Dec. 30, 1999 Humanitarian Bowl- Boise St. 34, Louisville 31
- Dec. 29, 2000 Liberty Bowl- Colorado St. 22, Louisville 17
- Dec. 31, 2001 Liberty Bowl- Louisville 28, Brigham Young 10
- Dec. 18, 2002 GMAC Bowl- Marshall 38, Louisville 15
- Dec. 18, 2003 GMAC Bowl- Miami (Ohio) 49, Louisville 28
- Dec. 31, 2004 Liberty Bowl- Louisville 44, Boise St. 40
- Jan. 2, 2006 Gator Bowl- Virginia Tech 35, Louisville 24
- Jan. 2, 2007 Orange Bowl- Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13
- Dec. 21, 2010 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl- Louisville 31, Southern Mississippi 28
- Dec. 27, 2011 Belk Bowl- N.C. State 31, Louisville 24