The 2012-2013 Bowl Blitz Invitational presented by STAT BOX STORIES continues with the Allstate Sugar Bowl, which matches up the #21 Louisville Cardinals (10-2, 5-2 Big East) and the #3 Florida Gators (11-1, 7-1 SEC). STAT BOX STORIES owner Brian Parker took control of the Big East Conference Champions in their underdog role for this BCS Bowl.
Turnovers doom #3 Gators in Sugar Bowl classic as #21 Louisville scores upset win
New Orleans, L.A. – Going up against a team that was one game away from playing in the SEC Championship for a potential berth in the BCS Championship Game, the #21 Louisville Cardinals knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. Luckily for them, they got some unexpected assistance from the #3 Florida Gators as the favored team was unable to overcome costly mistakes under the bright lights of the Superdome.
Neither team found success on offense early in the game, with the first points coming deep into the first quarter on a 36-yard field goal by Louisville. On the ensuing Florida possession, however, a 3rd-and-Long turned into a 76-yard touchdown pass from QB #6 to WR #85 to give the Gators a 7-3 edge as the quarter expired.
The beginning of the second quarter was similarly quiet until just under two minutes remaining in the first half when Louisville HB #28 punched the ball in from two yards out to re-establish the lead for the Cardinals. With the ball back in the Gators hands and enough time left to drive the field, Florida made their first mistake of the game with an interception inside their own territory. Louisville quickly capitalized, scoring from three yards out on a Wildcat Jet Sweep to HB #28 to fool the goal line defense.
The Florida juggernaut would not lay down going into halftime, however, and QB #6 found WR #83 with 20 seconds remaining in the half to get more points on the board for the Gators and allow them to go into halftime facing a manageable 17-14 deficit.
Despite getting the ball first in the third quarter, Louisville’s offense was woeful for the frame. On Florida’s first possession of the second half, they drove the field and eventually found the end zone on a 22-yard pass from QB #6 to WR #1 on a play where the Cardinals’ zone defense was thoroughly exploited as the receiver was left alone in the back corner of the end zone. The score gave Florida their first lead of the second half, 21-17.
Another Florida drive carried over from the third quarter into the fourth, and a powerful 3-yard run by HB #33 after a punishing drive gave Florida another touchdown and an 11-point lead, as well as much of the momentum. Louisville’s offense did its defense no favors, quickly going three-and-out on their ensuing possession.
This is when the comeback began, however. Florida QB #6 made a poor read on a pass and was picked off just past midfield by Louisville CB #15, who saw daylight in front of him on a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown to get the despondent Cardinals fans back into the game. Louisville opted to go for the two-point conversion to cut the lead to a field goal, and QB #5 found WR #9 in the end zone for a successful conversion.
On Florida’s next drive, a promising foray into the Louisville end of the field was spoiled by QB #6’s third interception on the game, gifting possession back to the Cardinals. Louisville fought hard to get into the red zone, but on 1st-and-10 with time running down they committed back-to-back holding penalties to push them into a 1st-and-30 scenario. Instead of playing conservatively, Louisville opted for a pass play and QB #5 got the ball out just before the defender got to him and found WR #3 for a 37-yard touchdown and a miraculous 32-28 lead.
Florida’s final possession of the game marched down the field as well as the offense had throughout much of the game, but with only one timeout remaining the Gators faced 4th-and-7 at the Louisville 15-yard-line. QB #6 dropped back to pass but could not find an open receiver; his attempt to WR #83—who may have stepped out of bounds on the play anyway—was well-read by Louisville CB #21 and swatted down to give the ball to the Cardinals for a simple kneel-down.
Player of the Game: Louisville CB #15, who had two interceptions including one which was returned 53 yards for a touchdown to get the Cardinals back into the game after Florida had gone up 28-17 in the fourth quarter.
It was over when… Facing 4th-and-7 at the Louisville 15-yard-line, Florida QB #6 threw a pass to the end zone which was deflected away by Louisville CB #21 to force a turnover on downs and end the game.
Game Ball goes to… Florida WR #85, who caught 7 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown to keep Florida’s offense going in a tightly-contested game.
Stat of the Game: 136. That’s how many more yards the Gators gained on offense than Louisville. However, three turnovers doomed Florida as each one turned into a Cardinals touchdown, including the 53-yard interception return in the fourth quarter which narrowed their lead to a field goal.
Statistical Tidbits: Florida thoroughly out-gained Louisville on the ground, 140 to 40. The Gators also out-passed the Cardinals, 291-255. … Both teams completed 16 passes, though Louisville attempted 6 fewer throws. … The Cardinals were a woeful 2-for-8 on third down conversions, while Florida kept multiple drives alive with their 9-for-13 conversion rate. Florida failed to convert on two fourth down attempts, however. … Louisville had a 100% red zone success rate, while the Gators went 2-for-3 inside the Louisville 20-yard-line. … The Cardinals did not turn the ball over once, while three interceptions for Florida were pivotal to keeping victory out of their hands. … Louisville was forced to punt 5 times on the game.