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Sugar Bowl 2013: Florida vs. Louisville Will Be Closer Than Most Think

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 03:  Charlie Strong the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals talks with his team during the game against the Temple Owls at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Randy ChambersAnalyst IDecember 20, 2016

The BCS bowl games are a little watered down this year, and that includes the 2013 Sugar Bowl. A historic bowl that has provided us with many late-second finishes and memorable matchups now gives us a game between Louisville and Florida.

That's right. The Big East champion is playing an SEC powerhouse that was just one bounce away from playing in the national championship. Needless to say, this isn't the matchup that many expected before the college football season began.

But even with that said, it would be a mistake for anybody to believe that Louisville will go down without a fight. The Cardinals have shown bits and pieces of solid football play and have been waiting for a big moment to show that there is actual talent in the Big East.

If you were expecting a blowout in this BCS bowl game, you may have to turn your attention towards the Orange Bowl.

This game will actually end up a lot closer than you think.

 

Teddy Bridgewater Is a Future Star

In order to pull off a major upset in any football game, the underdog must have a reliable quarterback that is capable of playing well. In this case, that quarterback would be Teddy Bridgewater, and the sophomore is somebody that is more than capable of taking over a football game.

Despite throwing with a glove on his right hand, Bridgewater completed 69 percent of his passes on the year. He is truly as accurate as any quarterback in the league and has had six games this season where he has completed well over 70 percent of his passes.

He has produced 33 plays of over 25 yards with his arm and was good enough to be named Big East Offensive Player of the Year.

The young quarterback has also shown that he has heart and a passion to win, as he led the Cardinals in a come from behind victory against Rutgers. Simple things like a broken left wrist and sprained right ankle weren't going to slow him down. Bridgewater ended up completing 20 of 28 passes for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the comeback victory.

He may only be in his second year, but Bridgewater is somebody who should begin receiving national attention as an elite quarterback. With him leading the Cardinals, it does give this football team an outside shot to pull off the upset.

 

Florida Playing Down to Its Opponents

There is no doubt that Florida is a national championship contender because of the résumé it put together throughout the year. Beating three teams ranked inside the top 10 of the polls in one season is beyond impressive.

However, the Gators have also put together a reputation of playing down to their opponents. The team barely beat Missouri, needed a blocked punt to prevent overtime against Louisiana-Lafayette and had issues pulling away against Jacksonville State.

Even though Florida has beaten up on Florida State and South Carolina, playing close games against less talented teams is not something you want to make a habit. Sooner or later the Gators are going to lose one of those games, and it could possibly be in the BCS Sugar Bowl.

Of course, Florida has more talent across the board, but at the same time, Louisville shouldn't be confused with Jacksonville State or Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cardinals have a defense that is only allowing 20 points per game, and the offense has playmakers in Bridgewater and wide receiver DeVante Parker.

If the Gators don't feel like showing up for a couple of quarters, this may be the game that turns around and bites them.

 

Coaching Motivation

Speaking of not being able to wake up for a football game, Louisville will have every reason in the world to bring its best effort to this bowl game. One of those reasons would be that this is a school that doesn't always receive this type of national attention.

The other reason this team will show up in a big way is because the head coach is Charlie Strong. Not only is he a tough-nosed head coach who always demands the best, but he is the former defensive coordinator of the Gators.

He actually was a candidate to take over as the head coach position when Ron Zook was let go, but instead the program turned to Urban Meyer. This then turned into a racial issue, as Strong said he didn't get the position because he was a black man that was married to a white woman.

Strong says that this will just be an ordinary matchup, but you know somewhere deep down he would love nothing more than to stick it to the Gators on a big stage. There are some games that wake you up more than others and Strong and his troops will be ready to go once January arrives.

This BCS matchup will be closer than you expect.

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