Short and sweets: Louisville's Preston Brown vs. Florida's Mike Gillislee
Published: Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 7:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 7:43 p.m.
Treat yourself to a collection of Sugar Bowl tidbits
Louisville linebacker Preston Brown vs. Florida running back Mike Gillislee
Brown has been a solid performer all season for the Cardinals and led the team in tackles. Florida is going to try to establish the running game the way it did all season and Brown has to keep Gillislee from breaking runs to the second level.
Gillislee became the first running back in eight years at Florida to rush for more than 1,000 yards and the Gators are not shy about pounding him into the middle. He suffered a rib injury late in the FSU game, but is ready to go Wednesday night.
“They play with a lot of confidence,” said Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, a former UF assistant under Urban Meyer. “Gillislee is playing lights out. He's playing extremely well. So we're very concerned about that running game.”
Brown isn't the only player who will be trying to tackle Gillislee, but the defensive system run by the Cardinals is based on freeing him up to make plays.
The five Florida bowl records that are the least likely to be broken:
1. Fewest passes completed — Three, vs. Maryland in the 1975 Gator Bowl. On a rainy night, the Gators' wishbone offense was shut out.
2. Most yards of total offense by an opponent — 629, vs. Nebraska in 1996 Fiesta Bowl. And 524 of those yards came on the ground on an ugly night for the Gators.
3. Completion percentage — 88.6, vs. Cincinnati in 2010 Sugar Bowl. Tim Tebow set a record for BCS bowl games in his final game at UF.
4. Most passes attempted — 58, vs. Notre Dame in the 1992 Sugar Bowl. Steve Spurrier abandoned the running game, especially when the Irish took control in the fourth quarter.
5. Most yards for both teams — 1,019. vs. Maryland in 2002 Orange Bowl. Florida accounted for 659 of those yards in throttling the ACC champions.
UF IN THE SUGAR BOWL
1996 — Florida 52, FSU 20
So how many of you out there have this score as your password for something? The Gators won their first national title in the sweetest way imaginable by beating their rivals soundly in New Orleans.
The Seminoles, who had beaten Florida at the end of the regular season, hit a big pass play on the first play of the game, but Florida stopped a fourth-and-1 run by Pooh Bear Williams to set the tone.
Still, UF led only 24-17 at the half and 24-20 early in the third quarter before blowing the game open.
Danny Wuerffel threaded the needle on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard for the first of four straight touchdowns for the Gators, then scrambled for 26 yards and another score. Terry Jackson put the exclamation point on the night with a clinching 42-yard touchdown run and added a 1-yard score later after an FSU interception.
A month after Spurrier complained about FSU's late hits on Wuerffel the teams combined for 217 yards in penalties.
Key stat: Florida doubled the number of first downs for FSU 26-13. As much as this game was about Wuerffel and the offense, the Florida defense played really well.
“This is a big game for us and a lot of people aren't giving us a chance to win. We have to go out and prove that we can play with anyone.”
— Calvin Pryor, Louisville safety
This will be the last game of the college careers of Florida's seniors. Each day we'll take a look at the career of one of those players.
XAVIER NIXON — The 6-foot-5 tackle has seen it all at Florida. He came to UF after the Gators won a national title in 2008 and worked his way into the starting lineup as a true freshman at South Carolina blocking for senior Tim Tebow.
He struggled as a sophomore, then had an illness during his junior season that caused him to lose so much weight he was dominated at times during the 2011 season.
But Nixon bounced back to have a strong senior season after getting back to more than 300 pounds and is a big reason why Florida is back in the Sugar Bowl.
Nixon is going to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile and it will be interesting to see where he is drafted. He has a lot of the tools NFL teams are looking for but his up-and-down career may be an issue.