Sugar Bowl preview: Louisville-Florida
DEC 30, 2012 5:15p ET
Teddy Bridgewater is one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the college game, but he will be tested like never before against a Florida defense the includes Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd, both of whom would be considered borderline first-round draft picks if they choose to come out as juniors. Bridgewater has thrown for 3,452 yards and 25 touchdowns, numbers based largely on his ability to extend plays.
That ability to adapt and keep plays alive will be critical if Louisville is to have any chance in this one. The Gators defense is bruising, but Bridgewater is healing from a wrist and ankle injury that forced him to take only snaps from the shotgun against Rutgers. And he has some healthy targets in DeVante Parker, Damian Copeland, Andrell Smith and running back Jeremy Wright who is a bigger weapon as a receiver than he is as a runner.
The task for the Gators is simple: shut down Bridgewater and stop the passing game. Louisville will not beat you on the ground. If Easley and Floyd can get to the quarterback and star safety Matt Elam can cover the passing lanes, it will be a long night for the Cardinals.
Player to Watch
The most obvious player to watch is Bridgewater, who must have a stellar game if Louisville is to have any chance. But the other quarterback, Jeff Driskel, will be just as key. Driskel has been one of the most Jekyll and Hyde players this year. He looked sensational against Tennessee, throwing for 219 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 89 more. But then he struggled against Texas A&M, taking eight sacks in a game the Gators won because of their defense.
Driskel suffers from a belief that his natural athleticism – which is better than most – can lead him to make plays that simply cannot be made. That creates sacks and, in some cases, turnovers. If he manages the game effectively and doesn't try to do too much, the Gators should plow through this one. If not, it could get interesting.
33: The number of sacks Driskel has taken on 249 pass attempts. Louisville isn't an SEC defense, but they do have a former SEC defensive coordinator as their head coach. He knows what the Cardinals need to do to have a chance.
The Gators are too strong. They will do what they do best: run the football, chew up the clock, and win this one by as much or as little as needed to go home victorious. Louisville isn't strong enough up front to control either line of scrimmage, so this one could be over early.
The Pick: Florida 27-7
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