2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl: Louisville Shocks the Nation After Beating Florida
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Not many people thought a Big East team like the Louisville Cardinals should even be in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and they definitely didn't expect them to win easily over a very talented SEC team like the Florida Gators.
But win they did, 33-23.
The Cardinals showed early that they came to play when Louisville's Terrell Floyd intercepted Florida QB Jeff Driskel's first pass and returned it for a touchdown.
After Louisville's defense forced a three and out, the Cards drove down the field with ease and went up 14-0 after a one-yard touchdown run by running back Jeremy Wright. There was still six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Louisville controlled the rest of the game, surprising television analysts and hushing the Florida fans.
Head Coach Charlie Strong said after the game:
This performance, it's just attributed to our offense, our defense, kicking game. All three phases we played well. We said this at the beginning: We just need to take care of our job and do what we're supposed to do, don't worry about who we're playing, it's going to be a 60 minute game, win every play, and that's what we had to do this season.
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater started his Heisman Trophy campaign for next season with 266 yards passing and two touchdowns. He threw to nine different receivers and connected on 20 of 32 passes. The sophomore quarterback was rewarded the Sugar Bowl MVP trophy after the game.
Louisville safety Calvin Pryor said after Bridgewater after the game, "I've been saying it all year: He's one of the best quarterbacks and best player in the nation. They look at Louisville, don't give us any credit, but he's one of the best quarterbacks in the nation."
Louisville's defense was led by linebacker Preston Brown who had 13 tackles, including one-and-a-half tackles for loss.
Florida played very physical throughout and was penalized heavily—even getting an ejection and a sideline penalty. The Gators struggled to get any type of momentum and didn't have enough fight to come from behind.
Louisville fans took over New Orleans, La. this week and outnumbered Florida fans in the Superdome by a great number. This is the type of support coach Charlie Strong has been fighting for since coming to Louisville three years ago.
Strong said of the fans after the game:
For them to come down from Louisville where they came from, all across the state of Kentucky to support us the way they did our players felt so good. Each day when you walked out of that hotel going to practice, they were lining up with the Cards cheer.
This is perhaps the biggest victory in Louisville football history and sets the stage for years to come. Recruiting for Louisville is heating up and Strong is working on a new contract after turning down the Tennessee job.
Don't be surprised next year if the Cardinals make it to a BCS game, perhaps even the national championship.
Jon Hancock is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
You can follow Jon on Twitter @JonKYSportsCo.
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