Florida pushed around by Louisville in Sugar Bowl

80 Comments

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.

Iowa loses RB James Butler ‘at least through the bye’

Getty Images
1 Comment

Iowa sat Akrum Wadley for much of Saturday’s 31-14 win over North Texas after he was flagged for a (frankly ridiculous) excessive celebration penalty for high-stepping his way to the Kinnick Stadium end zone. (The score was wiped off the board, but Iowa completed the drive with a touchdown anyway.) The Hawkeyes will have no choice but to give him carries now.

Running back James Butler (20) has injured an elbow that will keep him out for the next few weeks.

“I think James will be out through the bye week,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said, via Hawkeye Report. “It will be a couple of weeks before we get him back.”

A Nevada transfer with two 1,000-yard seasons to his credit, Butler was a graduate transfer addition to the Hawkeyes, announcing his transfer on July 4. He ranks second on the club with 36 carries for 158 yards thus far in 2017, carrying a season-high 16 times for 74 yards before the injury.

Butler’s carries figure to go to fellow senior Wadley and freshmen Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin. Wadley leads the club with 60 carries for 258 yards and a touchdown, and Young and Kelly-Martin have combined to rush 30 times for 152 yards and two scores. Young made his debut in Wadley’s absence in the second half Saturday, rushing 19 times for 78 yards.

The 3-0 Hawkeyes host No. 4 Penn State on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC), then visit undefeated Michigan State the week after (4 p.m. ET, FOX). Iowa will host Illinois before its Oct. 14 bye week.

Lincoln Riley to earn $3.1 million a year as OU head coach

Getty Images
1 Comment

Lincoln Riley won’t be paid nearly as much as Bob Stoops was as Oklahoma’s head coach, but he’ll earn significantly more than he did as the Sooners’ offensive coordinator.

Oklahoma approved and released Riley’s new deal on Tuesday, a 5-year contract that pays him $3.1 million annually and rises $200,000 a year. Stoops made $5.5 million in his last season, according to USA Today, while Riley earned $900,000 as offensive coordinator.

Perks include 25 hours of private airplane use, not one but two private golf club membership, and bonuses ranging from $25,000 for winning Big 12 coach of the year honors to $250,000 for a national championship.

Riley is 3-0 in his young tenure, already proving himself to be a tremendous bargain for the Sooners.

SEC releases 2018 schedule

Getty Images
2 Comments

The SEC released its 2018 slate on Tuesday, beginning the weekend of Sept. 1 and running through the SEC Championship on Saturday, Dec. 1. It would be entirely pointless to break down winners and losers of the ’18 slate considering we don’t really even know who’s good yet in 2017 — other than Alabama — and we especially don’t know who will be good in ’18 — other than ‘Bama, of course.

But we can point out some dates that look interesting as we sit here on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the year of our Lord 2017. And, no, intra-divisional games don’t count, since they are played every year.

  • Auburn vs. Washington — Sept. 1 (at Atlanta)
  • Alabama vs. Louisville — Sept. 1 (at Orlando)
  • LSU vs. Miami — Sept. 1 (at Dallas)
  • Tennessee vs. West Virginia (at Charlotte)
  • Clemson at Texas A&M — Sept. 8
  • Vanderbilt at Notre Dame — Sept. 15
  • Florida at Mississippi State — Sept. 29
  • Tennessee at Auburn — Oct. 13

Consult the full schedule here. 

Louisville-Ole Miss 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff opener made official

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After reports had signaled it, it’s a done deal.

The “it” in this case is Louisville opening the 2021 season against Ole Miss, with the two programs confirming Tuesday that they will square off in one of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games that year.  The game will be played at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, although a date and kickoff time are still to be determined.

The 2021 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the football teams.  Each has made one previous appearance in the Kickoff Game, Louisville in 2015 (31-24 loss to Auburn) and Ole Miss in 2014 (35-13 win over Boise State).

“To have the opportunity to play in this game again for the second time is a huge win for our program,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said in a statement. “We are honored to be welcomed back by the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, which is a tremendous testament to our loyal fan base, who helped pack the stadium in 2015. Our fans have a great history of traveling, and to have the opportunity to play a great program like Ole Miss in this brand-new facility will certainly be a hot ticket for the fans. Gary Stokan and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl group do a tremendous job with this game and we appreciate them selecting Louisville for what has become the premier game to kick off the season.”

“We are thrilled to once again be part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. We always set the goal to end the regular season in Atlanta, so it’s only fitting that’s where we begin it,” Jurich’s Ole Miss counterpart, Ross Bjork, said in his. “With our strong alumni base in Georgia, Rebel Nation will arrive in full force to experience this premier matchup in the nation’s finest new stadium. In addition, the Atlanta market is a key recruiting area for our staff, and this trip offers a tremendous opportunity to compete in front of those prospects.”

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Alabama and Miami would square off in the other Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game the opening weekend of the 2021 season.