NEW ORLEANS — 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, 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.
Shaking off an early hit that flattened him and knocked off his helmet, Bridgewater was 20-of-32 passing 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 the 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.
By the end, the chant, “Charlie, Charlie!” — for third-year Louisville coach Charlie Strong, the former defensive coordinator for the Gators — echoed from sections of the Superdome occupied by red-clad Cardinals fans.
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 left 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 finished 16-of-29 for 175 yards.