Upon capturing a share of the BIG EAST Conference title and earning the league's Bowl Championship Series bid, the University of Louisville football team has received an invitation to play in the 79th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl against Florida on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
The game will be televised by ESPN starting at 8:30 p.m. EST from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.
The announcement of the Sugar Bowl match-up with Florida (11-1, 7-1 SEC) came on the ESPN College Bowl Selection Show held Sunday evening (Dec. 2) at 8:30 p.m.
"We are extremely excited for the opportunity to play an outstanding Florida team in the Sugar Bowl," Vice President/Director of Athletics Tom Jurich said. "This is a great match-up of two top-20 teams and is going to be a great test for our football team. This is a great reward for an outstanding season. Charlie Strong and his staff did a remarkable job with this young team to get to a BCS game, and New Orleans is a great destination. We know from being in the Final Four last year that New Orleans is an outstanding city.
"New Orleans is a manageable drive for our fans after the holiday. Our fans have always made their presence known in every post-season game we have ever played in. The last time we played in the Orange Bowl, we brought over 30,000 fans, and with the excitement of this team, I hope we can reach that again."
This will be Louisville's second appearance in a BCS bowl game. The Cardinals won their only BCS bowl contest, with a 24-13 victory in the 2007 Orange Bowl over Wake Forest.
The Cardinals (10-2, 5-2 BIG EAST) finished the regular season ranked 18th in the USA Today Coaches Poll and 22nd in the Associated Press Poll. In its last game, Louisville came from behind to post a 20-17 victory at Rutgers and ensure the Cardinals their second-straight BIG EAST title. With the win, Louisville posted its fourth double-digit win total in school history.
This season, the Cardinals have thrived on offense under the direction of first-year offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. Under Watson's tutelage, Louisville's red zone efficiency ranks first in the country, its' passing efficiency ranks 16th nationally and its' passing offense ranks 24th.
Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is in the process of writing the Louisville annals, ranks sixth nationally in completion percentage, eighth in passing efficiency and 24th in total offense. Relative to single-season records, Bridgewater is fourth in passing yards and completions and fifth in passing touchdowns and total offense. On the career charts, the Miami, Fla., native is fifth in passing touchdowns and completions and sixth in passing yards.
On the other side of the ball, the team's pass defense is 16th-best nationally and its' total defense ranks 25th.
The Gators finished the regular season second in the Southeastern Conference's East Division behind Georgia. Florida, ranked fourth in both the USA Today Coaches poll and Associated Press media poll, beat Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State on Nov. 24 to secure the Gators' fifth 11-win regular-season campaign in school history.
Florida's defense has been one of the best in the country this year, as the Gators rank first in pass efficiency defense, third in scoring defense, fifth in total defense, sixth in rushing defense and are tied for fifth in turnover margin.
BOWL GAME NOTES:
- The Cardinals are making their 17th all-time bowl appearance (7-8-1 record).
- Louisville will be making its fifth January bowl appearance and will play in a January bowl game for the first time since the 2006 season.
- This will be the first time Louisville plays in the Sugar Bowl.
- The last time a BIG EAST team played in the Sugar Bowl was Cincinnati (2010).
- The Cardinals have compiled an 11-30-1 record all-time against the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and are making their second appearance against an SEC foe in a bowl game. Louisville defeated Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl on January 1, 1991.