GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No.3 Florida will play No. 21 Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 in New Orleans. Here are 10 things you need to know heading into the game:
• 1.The Gators rank ahead of the Cardinals in five statistical categories (rushing offense, rushing defense, pass defense, total defense and scoring defense). The only statistical categories where the Cardinals are better are passing offense, total offense, and scoring offense.
• 2.The biggest discrepancy is the teams' passing offense. Florida ranks 114th nationally (143.9 yards per game) while Louisville ranks 24th nationally (298.6 yards per game).
• 3.Both teams are starting sophomore quarterbacks who were highly touted recruits. UF's Jeff Driskel was ESPN.com's top-ranked quarterback in 2011 out of Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater was No. 9 out of Miami/Northwestern. Through two seasons, Driskel has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 1,619 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Bridgewater has completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 5,581 yards with 39 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
• 4.This game features two of the nation's premier defensive coaches in Louisville's Charlie Strong and UF's Will Muschamp. Strong was fantastic in his final tenure as defensive coordinator in Gainesville, helping the Gators win two national titles. UF smothered Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, holding the Buckeyes to just 82 yards in a 41-14 victory. In the 2008 title game, Strong's defense held Oklahoma, which averaged 54.0 points per game and had scored a Football Bowl Subdivision record 702 points, to just 14 points. Strong was the co-defensive coordinator with Greg Mattison for the first title and the sole defensive coordinator for the second title. Muschamp's Texas defenses ranked in the top 10 nationally in numerous categories from 2008-2010. In 2009, the Longhorns reached the BCS title game behind a defense that led the nation in rushing yards allowed (73.1 per game), third-down defense (26.5 percent), turnovers forced, and interceptions (25).
• 5.Florida is riding a school-record four-game bowl winning streak. The Gators last lost in the 2008 Capital One Bowl (Michigan). Their victories:
2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Game (Oklahoma);
2010 Sugar Bowl (Cincinnati);
2011 Outback Bowl (Penn State);
2012 TaxSlayer.com Bowl (Ohio State).
• 6.Florida is making its seventh BCS bowl appearance since 1998. The Gators are 5-1 in those games, with victories over:
Syracuse (1999 Orange),
Maryland (2002 Orange);
Ohio State (2007 BCS NCG)
Oklahoma (2009 BCS NCG)
Cincinnati (2010 Sugar).
The lone loss came against Miami (Fla.) in the 2001 Sugar Bowl. Louisville is making its second BCS bowl appearance. The Cardinals beat Wake Forest in the 2007 Orange Bowl.
• 7.Both teams are winning with an abundance of young players, not just their sophomore QBs. Louisville has 27 freshmen or sophomores listed on its two-deep depth chart on offense and defense, including eight on the offensive line. Florida has 21 freshmen or sophomores on its two-deep depth chart on offense and defense.
• 8.Florida and Louisville have met twice before, but not since 1992. UF won 13-0 in Gainesville in 1980 and 31-17 in Gainesville in '92. Both were homecoming games. Strong was the Gators' defensive ends coach in that second meeting.
• 9.Strong is one of just four Louisville coaches to have winning seasons in their first three seasons on the job. The other three had at least four winning seasons to start their Louisville tenure:
Bobby Petrino (2003-06);
John L. Smith (1998-2002);
Lee Corso (1969-72).
• 10.Muschamp is the third coach in UF history to win 10 or more games in his second season in Gainesville. That puts him in pretty good company. The other two -- Steve Spurrier (10 victories in 1991) and Urban Meyer (13 victories in 2006) -- combined to win three national titles.