Florida pushed around by Louisville in Sugar Bowl


With a 14.5 point spread, the Sugar Bowl between Florida and Louisville wasn’t projected to be all that competitive. That turned out to pretty much be the case, but it was the Cardinals, not the Gators, dominating in shocking fashion.

From the first play from scrimmage — literally, a pick-six by Louisvlle’s Terell Floyd — the Cardinals had Florida out of its comfort zone and trying to play catch-up. That’s not exactly what the Gators are designed to do and No. 22 Louisville handed a 33-23 loss to No. 4 Florida for the biggest win in program history and one of the biggest upsets in a BCS game.

The loss drops the SEC to 3-3 this bowl season with Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi still left to play. None of the three should be considered massive favorites to win their bowls, either.

The Gators have been known for its top-10 defense all season. It’s what’s saved them a time or four in close games. But Florida was mostly unable to stop Teddy Bridgewater, who threw for 266 yards and a pair of scores. That’s the most yardage a Florida defense has given up since Nov. 5 of last year.

Leading up to the Sugar Bowl, Florida safety Matt Elam (pictured) said Bridgewater was the best quarterback his team would face this season. Better than Georgia’s Aaron Murray. Better than Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M.  That’s high praise, but Bridgewater didn’t do anything to suggest Elam wasn’t right.

It helps that he usually had all day to throw. Louisville’s offensive line didn’t always run block well — the Cardinals continued to struggle in the run game with just 70 yards — but did they ever pass protect, and in crucial spots too. Louisville was 9-of-14 on third down conversions against the mighty Gator defense and punted just once all night. When Louisville didn’t score, it was because the Cardinals stopped themselves with a missed field goal or interception.

While Louisville and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson deserve all the credit for a solid offensive showing, Florida’s defense deserves at least a little of the blame for being off. Florida was college football’s only defense from a BCS conference that hadn’t allowed a touchdown pass of 15 yards or longer all season, yet Bridgewater’s scores were from 15 and 19 yards.

But Will Muschamp failed to put the defense in better situations. The offense, which has been a liability all year, had three turnovers and couldn’t do much outside of picking apart a prevent defense. A failed onside kick with two personal foul penalties tacked on gave Louisville the ball at the Gators 19-yard line to start the second half. Bridgewater tossed a touchdown pass to Damian Copeland on the next play.

Speaking of penalties, Florida had a lot of ’em — nine for 98 yards to be exact. It was an all around bad night for a team that had the most impressive body of work this season. To end it a sour note against a team that will be getting a lot of preseason hype in 2013 will have Muschamp looking for answers this spring, especially on offense.

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa injures thumb on throwing hand in spring practice opener

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This is not exactly the most optimal way to open the spring for Nick Saban and Alabama.

Shortly before seven p.m. ET this evening, grad transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, who originally committed to play his last season of college football at Alabama, announced on Twitter that he will instead move on to Washington State.  Not long after that, after the Crimson Tide had completed their first practice of the spring, Saban confirmed that Tua Tagovailoa sustained an injury to the thumb on his right (throwing) hand.  Specifically how he sustained the injury wasn’t clear.

The rising sophomore will be taken to Birmingham for further evaluation; just how long he’ll be sidelined remains to be seen.

Jalen Hurts started every game but one at quarterback the past two seasons, guiding the Crimson Tide to a 26-2 record in that span.  He was under center for the national championship game loss to Clemson, and was in the same spot for this year’s title game against Georgia until a 13-0 halftime deficit compelled Saban to pull the trigger on a change.

And the rest, as they say, is history, as Tagovailoa played a significant role in a second-half comeback that was capped by the true freshman’s game-winning touchdown pass in the first overtime.  Even as it seems obvious to those on the outside that this is Tagovailoa’s team moving forward, given how much more advanced the backup is in the passing game than the erstwhile starter, Saban is not quite ready to pull the trigger on a full-time change at the position.  In fact, the head coach even stated that he’s open to playing both quarterbacks.

Minshew, who started five games at East Carolina last season, was viewed as experienced insurance in case Hurts decided to transfer.  Or, if Tagovailoa suffered an injury.

After committing to Alabama, grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew tweets flip to Washington State

Getty Images
Leave a comment

So much for the implementation of the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™.

In late February, Gardner Minshew, a graduate transfer quarterback from East Carolina, confirmed that he had committed to play for Alabama and would enroll at the university in May.  Nearly three weeks later, Minshew shifted his course significantly, announcing on Twitter that he is “[p]roud to say that I’ll be playing my last year of college ball at Washington State.”

At least when it comes to the opportunity for playing time, the Cougars, looking to replace Luke Falk, make much more sense than the Crimson Tide, who has, in addition to a two-year starter in Hurts, national championship game hero Tua Tagovailoa.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew will be eligible to play immediately for Wazzu in 2018 and could be in line to win a starting job at the Power Five school.

Minshew started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

The news of Minshew’s initial commitment to UA came a little over a week after Minshew visited the Tuscaloosa campus.  Earlier in February, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.

WATCH: Amazon releases trailer for ‘All or Nothing’ season following Michigan

Getty Images

“All or Nothing” has been Amazon’s answer to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” with one clear distinction — “All or Nothing” actually follows its subject throughout the season. The first two seasons followed the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams, and has now expanded into the college game. Amazon on Tuesday unveiled the trailer for its upcoming season with Michigan, in which its cameras followed Jim Harbaugh‘s Wolverines through an 8-5 campaign where the maize and blue won no games of consequence.

This is not the first such documentary series to follow a college team. Showtime’s “A Season With” has chronicled seasons of Florida State, Notre Dame and Navy.

The upcoming season will hit all Amazon Prime streaming devices on April 6.

Report: Auburn WR Eli Stove undergoes surgery for torn ACL

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A significant development has gone under the radar at Auburn, until now. Junior wide receiver Eli Stove tore his ACL during Auburn’s first spring practice and underwent surgery last Tuesday, according to Brandon Marcello of Auburn Undercover.

As a sophomore in 2017, Stove caught 29 passes for 265 yards and rushed 30 times for 315 yards and two touchdowns, which made him the Tigers’ third-leading rusher.

Stove was expected to increase his portfolio heading into 2018, but now he’ll spend the foreseeable future working simply to get back on the field. No timetable has been set for Stove’s return.

Though Stove is one of Auburn’s most talented pass-catchers, the Tigers aren’t hurting for depth even in his absence. Nine wideouts caught a pass for Auburn last season, and not one of them was a senior.