Here are three keys for Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Florida.
1. Protect Teddy Bridgewater. UConn provided the perfect blueprint for how to slow down Bridgewater: pressure him, and take him down. Of course, that was a very similar blueprint to the one NC State used in the Belk Bowl last season. The Huskies sacked Bridgewater four times, and as a result, Bridgewater sprained his ankle and broke his wrist. Despite that, he nearly led the comeback win in overtime. In the Belk Bowl last season, Bridgewater was also sacked four times and threw three interceptions. Louisville lost both of those games. Now the Cardinals face the most physical, aggressive defensive front they have in the past two years. So protecting Bridgewater is a must.
2. Get the run game going. It's no secret Louisville has struggled big time without starter Senorise Perry, who tore his ACL against Syracuse. Louisville closed the season 1-2 with a rushing game that failed to gain more than 50 yards in any of those three contests. Jeremy Wright has the high in those three games, with 43 yards against UConn. In its 9-0 start, Louisville went over 100 yards in each game. While Bridgewater is perfectly capable of winning a game on his own -- as we saw him do against Rutgers -- establishing the run against Florida will go a long way toward keeping the Gator defense off-balance. All eyes are on Wright and Corvin Lamb to step up.
3. Consistency on defense. We have seen the Louisville defense alternate between tough and porous for most of the season. But there is no time for Louisville to allow Florida to gash 'em up the middle the way Cincinnati, Temple and Syracuse did earlier this season. The Gators' strength is in their rushing game -- they have just 26 pass completions of 20 or more yards, tied for 107th in FBS. So the Cardinals must do everything they can to stop Mike Gillislee and mobile quarterback Jeff Driskel and force the Gators into third-and-long and obvious passing situations.