The BCS party continues tonight when No. 3 Florida faces No. 21 Louisville in the Sugar Bowl (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
To pull off the upset, Louisville needs to learn from the last time a Big East team faced a highly-ranked Florida squad in the Sugar Bowl, the Gators' 51-24 stomping of Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. In that game, the Bearcats didn't force a turnover (though they committed none of their own) and, most importantly, failed to get their offense off the ground in the first half. Florida put 23 on the board before Cincinnati broke its goose egg, and five of its six true possessions in the first half ended in punts, with four three-and-outs mixed in. Of course, Cincinnati played that night without head coach Brian Kelly, while Louisville enters tonight with its coaching staff intact.
To pull off the upset, Louisville must get the best game of the year from its special teams units. The Cardinals ranked 119th in net punting, 100th in kickoff return yardage defense, 106th in punt returns and 116th in kickoff returns. Florida's defense, ranked sixth or better in each of the four major defensive categories, is more than capable of matching its last Sugar Bowl first half, so Louisville's offense must get help from its special teams.
Florida is far from pretty on offense, but it has succeeded in grinding opponents into dust behind explosive running back Mike Gillislee, most notably in his 34-carry, 146-yard, two-touchdown effort in the win over LSU. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease will likely employ a similar plan of attack against a Louisville rush defense that ranked seventh in the eight-team Big East.