As we’ve entered 2013, now we get into the substantial bowl games. Still, only one of them is technically not an exhibition, being the last one of all, but these are the sort of games towards which most teams aspire. Here, we have the 2013 Sugar Bowl between the Louisville Cardinals, Big East champions, and the Florida Gators, BCS at-large team out of the SEC.
Louisville Cardinals vs. Florida Gators | Wed., Jan. 2, 8:30pm ET | FLA -14 | ESPN
These two teams aren’t really much alike. One is from the Big East, soon to be the ACC; the other is a founding member of the SEC. One earns its credibility from offensive play, particularly at quarterback; the other has a smothering defense and not much at quarterback.
Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville is clearly the most productive quarterback of the two. He had a regular season in which he threw 25 touchdown passes for well over 3,400 yards; his 8.92 yards per attempt was one of the highest marks in the country this year.
On the other end, Florida has Jeff Driskel, but the Gators are not an airborne offense. Driskel threw the ball only 216 times, but he did have 108 rushes, and he even threw in a game where he had 177 yards and three touchdowns on the ground (for purposes of comparison, he had 77 passing yards that day against Vandy). Driskel and normal running back Mike Gillslee combined to give the Gators one of the better rushing attacks in FBS this season.
The Florida defense is the main attraction in the swamp. At 12.9 points per game, it is the third-best in terms of points allowed and 5th-best as far as yardage (283.4 allowed per game). UF’s run defense is particularly outstanding, holding opponents to less than 100 yards per game — but Louisville is not a running team. They’re a passing offense for sure, but the Gators have that covered, too: they allow the lowest opposing passer rating in the country this season.
In short, despite how good Charlie Strong’s offense is, Will Muschamp’s defense is better.
2013 Sugar Bowl Pick: Florida