Louisville safety Calvin Pryor predicted the Cardinals would “shock the world” against Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Brave words that he and his teammates backed up from start to finish.
Terell Floyd returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, dual-threat quarterback Teddy Bridgewater directed a handful of scoring drives and No. 22 Louisville stunned the fourth-ranked Gators, 33-23, in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday night in New Orleans.
Shaking off an early hit that flattened him and knocked off his helmet, Bridgewater completed 20 of 32 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns against the heavily favored Gators. Among his throws was a pinpoint, 15-yard timing toss that DeVante Parker acrobatically grabbed as he touched one foot down in a corner of the end zone.
His other scoring strike went to Damian Copeland from 19 yards one play after a surprise onside kick by the Gators had backfired badly. Jeremy Wright had a short touchdown run that gave the two-touchdown underdogs from the Big East a 14-0 lead from which the Gators never recovered.
Florida never trailed by more than 10 points this season, and the Southeastern Conference power had lost only once going into this game. The defeat dropped SEC teams to 3-3 this bowl season, with Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi still to play.
Louisville and Florida each finished at 11-2.
Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel, who had thrown only three interceptions all season, turned the ball over three times on two interceptions — both tipped passes — and a fumble. He completed 16 of 29 passes for 175 yards.
Down 33-10 midway through the fourth period, Florida tried to rally. Andre Debose scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and Driskel threw a TD pass to tight end Kent Taylor with 2:13 to play. But when Louisville defenders piled on Driskel to thwart the 2-point try, the game was essentially over.
Florida, which finished third in the BCS standings, didn’t score until Caleb Sturgis’ 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
UTAH’S KRUGER PICKS NFL
Utah defensive end Joe Kruger has opted not to return for his senior season and instead will enter the NFL draft in April.
The 6-foot-7, 280-pound junior played in 37 of 38 games for the Utes from 2010 to 2012, with 14 starts. He led Utah with six sacks this season and had eight tackles for loss.
Joe is the youngest of three Kruger brothers. Paul plays linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens and Dave just finished his Utah career as a four-year starting defensive tackle.
Kruger’s decision to turn pro is another blow for the Utes defensive line.
Utah nose tackle Star Lotulelei just completed his senior year and figures to be one of the NFL’s top picks.