It’s official: No. 3 Florida will battle No. 21 Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 2 in New Orleans, La. It’s the Florida Gators’ ninth trip to the Sugar Bowl.
It will be the first time in two decades Florida and Louisville have hooked up on the football field. Both meetings were UF homecoming games won by the Gators with a 13-0 victory in 1980 and a 31-17 win in 1992.
Of course, the Gators will be facing off against a familiar face in Charlie Strong, the Cardinals’ third-year head coach. Strong has had four different coaching stints at UF, where he began his career as a graduate assistant in 1983.
Strong coached UF’s outside linebackers from 1988-89, was assistant head coach/defensive tackles coach from 1991-94 and then held three different positions at various times from 2002-09, including defensive coordinator and interim head coach.
Louisville, which finished the regular season 10-2 overall and 5-2 in Big East play, announced its move to the ACC this past week. The Cardinals beat Rutgers 20-17 Thursday to secure a BCS bowl berth in what essentially served as a Big East Championship game.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater did not start the game because of a broken wrist and a sore ankle, but was able to come off of the bench to throw a pair of second half touchdown passes to help his team rally from a 14-3 halftime deficit for the win.
As for Florida, the Gators are in a BCS bowl because they moved ahead of Georgia in the BCS Standings after the Bulldogs lost 32-28 against Alabama in Saturday’s SEC Championship game. The Gators finished the regular season 11-1, with the lone loss coming against Georgia in a game when Florida coughed up six turnovers before losing 17-9.
Half of Florida’s eight Sugar Bowl appearances came between 1992-97 with coach Steve Spurrier guiding the Gators to four trips to New Orleans during the six-year span. That includes a 52-20 victory against Florida State for the 2006 National Championship, which was played Jan. 2, 1997.