Instant Analysis: Shocked in the Sugar
No. 3 Florida (11-2) suffered a humiliating defeat to No. 22 Louisville (11-2) 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl. Instant Analysis takes a look at how the Gators were taken to the woodshed by the Cardinals.
IT WAS OVER WHEN: Florida head coach Will Muschamp's decision to attempt an on-side kick to start the second half was unsuccessful and the Gators compounded the devastation of the failed kick by committing a pair of personal fouls on the play. Sophomores cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy and running back Chris Johnson each got tagged for a penalty with Johnson also getting kicked out of the game for throwing a punch. Louisville took over at UF's 19-yard line and increased its lead to 30-10 lead on the very next play as Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater hit wide receiver Damian Copeland in the end zone for a touchdown.
THIS STAT DOESN'T LIE: Ranked 14th nationally in third-down conversion percentage heading into the game, the Cardinals converted 9-of-14 third-down chances in the game, keeping their drives alive and forcing the Gators' defense to tire out by playing extra downs. Florida, on the other hand, was 3-for-10 on third down, part of the reason why it failed mightily on offense. UL only punted once in the ballgame. The only other drives they did not score on were missed/blocked field goals and a single Bridgewater interception.
HE STOLE THE SHOW: Bridgewater is the straw that stirs the drink for Louisville and proved that to be true once again on Wednesday as he threw for two touchdowns and shredded Florida's defense for 266 yards on 20-of-32 passing. The Cardinals' defense did a great job containing the Gators throughout the game, but it was Bridgewater that kept UF off balance and allowed UL to roll up more points than any other team has scored against Florida this season.
OH, WHAT A PLAY: On the first play from scrimmage, Gators sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel threw a pass behind redshirt junior wide out Andre Debose only to see it deflected, intercepted by Cardinals cornerback Terrell Floyd and returned for a touchdown just 15 seconds into the game. Though at the time it only spotted Louisville a seven-point lead, it set the tone for the entire game and let Florida know that its opponent was not going to roll over.
THIS MATCHUP PROVED KEY: The Cardinals were able to shred the Gators through the air by attacking the middle of the field. Louisville's pass catchers simply outmatched Florida's defensive backfield, especially on the edges where linebackers like redshirt junior Jelani Jenkins (injured) would normally be dropping back into coverage. Five Cardinals registered at least 31 receiving yards in the game as Louisville averaged 13.3 yards per reception.