NEW ORLEANS — Louisville safety Calvin Pryor predicted the Cardinals would “shock the world” against Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Brave words he and his teammates backed up from start to finish against an SEC power.
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 night.
By the end, the chant, “Charlie, Charlie!” echoed from sections of the Superdome occupied by red-clad Cardinals fans. It their way of serenading third-year Louisville coach Charlie Strong, the former defensive coordinator for the Gators, who has elevated Cardinals football to new heights and recently turned down a chance to leave behind what he’s built for the top job at Tennessee.
“They kind of thought we were going to come in and lay down and give them the game,” Floyd said. “But Coach Strong always preaches that we’re better than any team in the nation if we come out and play hard. Coach Strong believed in us and our coaching staff believed in us and we came in and believed in ourselves
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.
“I looked at what did and didn’t work for quarterbacks during the regular season,” said Bridgewater, picked as the game’s top player. “They faced guys forcing throws … and coach tells me, ‘No capes on your back or ‘S’ on your chest, take what the defense give you.’ That’s what I took. Film study was vital.”