Tonight at 8:30, the Louisville (10-2) football team will find out for sure who they play in their third straight bowl game under head coach Charlie Strong. It all depends on the BCS rankings.
Louisville has finished No. 22 in the AP and No. 18 in the USA Today polls.The two options are No. 13 Florida State (11-2) in the Orange Bowl or No. 4 Florida (11-1) in the Sugar Bowl.
It appears most experts have Louisville headed to Miami to face the Seminoles. The last meeting was in 2002 when UofL beat No. 4 FSU in overtime during a monster of a rainstorm. The matchup will also be that of future ACC members as UofL accepted an invite to join in 2014.
UofL and FSU haven one common opponent this season in South Florida (3-9). Both played close games with the Bulls, but ended victorious. FSU took advantage of USF turnovers and pulled away late to win 30-17. Louisville scored a touchdown with 1:35 remaining to defeat USF 27-25.
If Louisville were to play the Gators, their common opponent is Kentucky (2-10). Florida didn’t allow the Wildcats to score and won 38-0. The Cards beat their instate rival 32-14.
Regardless of who UofL plays, they will need to work on stopping the run. Both the Seminoles and Gators are run-first offenses. For the year, FSU as a team has 476 carries for 2,639 yards and an amazing 37 touchdowns. While Florida has more carries with 509 they have fewer yards (2,329) and TDs (21) than FSU. However, both are out rushing the Cards. UofL as a team has 426 carries for just 1,525 yards and 22 TDs.
The Louisville offense will face a Top 7 defense. FSU is only surrendering 15 points per game which is 7th best in the nation. Florida only gives up 12.9 points which is ranked 3rd. Louisville is giving up 23.8 points which is ranked 37th. The key is going to be to limit turnovers and stay out of long yardage third down situations.
Louisville does have one advantage that could be the equalizer, his name is Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater has been better than FSU’s EJ Manuel and Florida’s Jeff Driskel. Manuel has decent numbers with 237 completions in 349 attempts (67.9 percent) for 3,101 yards. Manuel also has 22 TDs and 10 interceptions. Driskel’s numbers are those of a quarterback that has a power defense. Driskel has only attempted 216 passes and connected on 140 (64.8 percent) for 1,471 yards. He has 11 TDs and 3 INTs. Bridgewater has went to the air 387 times and found receivers 267 times (69.1 percent) for 3,452 yards. Bridgewater has 25 TDs and 7 INTs.
The outcome of this game is extremely important. Obviously, a win is the goal. A win could give UofL a Top 10 preseason ranking entering next year. With a bunch of returning starters, this could help mold another magical season.
When the Las Vegas odds come out, expect Louisville to be a double-digit underdog. It very well could be two touchdowns or more.
The Big Red Louie hopes to see you in Miami or New Orleans.