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Observations On Florida’s Nightmarish Sugar Bowl

observation-pointA few thoughts and tidbits that ran through the noggin during Louisville’s 33-23 win over Florida in last evening’s Sugar Bowl:


*  Florida fans shouldn’t complain too much about the loss.  No, really.  They shouldn’t.

Because they didn’t take Louisville any more seriously than the Gator players did.

That won’t actually prevent grumbling, of course, but the fact is, many Gator fans moaned about having to play a Big East team.  UF also failed to sell out its bowl allotment by a pretty good chunk.  So if a fan — who could afford to go — didn’t take the Cardinals seriously and didn’t go to the game, I don’t see how that fan can whine too much about his team not showing up, either.


*  Florida went 11-1 against the season’s toughest SEC schedule.  They did so with a heckuva defense and a penchant for taking care of the ball (they were plus-17 going into last night’s game).  In our game preview, we wrote that with Florida’s depth and talent, turnovers were the only thing that could undo the Gators’ chances in New Orleans.  One fumble and two interceptions later — including an INT returned for a touchdown 15 seconds into the game — and UF had another loss on its ledger.

UF went 11-0 when it turned the ball over two or fewer times in a game this past season.  The Gators were 0-2 when they turned it over more than twice (six turnovers versus Georgia, three versus Louisville).  Even simpler, Florida was 11-0 when it won the turnover battle, 0-2 when it lost it.  Which goes to show…


*  Just how bad UF’s offense really has been.  As of this morning — there are still a few SEC bowl games to play — Florida ranks 12th out of 14 teams in total offense.  The Gators have a serious lack difference-makers at the skill positions.  That’s been an issue since Tim Tebow’s departure.

Play-calling has been booed and coordinators have been hounded, but the fact is, things haven’t been right with UF’s offense for three years and three different O-coordinators:


  Year/Coordinator   Points Per Game   Yards Per Game
  2010/S. Addazio   29.8 (8th in SEC)   351.2 (10th in SEC)
  2011/C. Weis   25.5 (8th in SEC)   328.7 (10th in SEC)
  2012/B. Pease   26.5 (10th in SEC)   334.0 (12th in SEC)


Maybe it’s the lack of a top-end quarterback.  Maybe it’s the lack of weaponry around the Gators’ QB.  Whatever the reason for the Gators’ offensive struggles, it doesn’t appear to be play-calling as three different men under two different head coaches have been sending in the signals.  It’s becoming apparent that the issue isn’t Xs and Os, it’s Jimmys and Joes.


*  Could Florida have looked much worse last night?  Louisville had the sixth-best defense against the run in the eight-team Big East, allowing 4.2 yards per carry on the season.  Last night, however, the Gators managed just 3.7 yards per carry (30 rushes for 111 yards).  That’s a less effective night on the ground  — in terms of yard per carry — than Connecticut, Syracuse, Temple, Cincinnati, South Florida, Southern Miss, Florida International, and Kentucky had against the Cardinals.  This from a Gator team that averaged 4.3 yards per carry against SEC defenses.

In addition to the poor run game, UF never looked ready to play.  From undisciplined hits (a helmet-to-helmet hit on Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater kept a Cardinal touchdown drive alive) to punches thrown (Chris Johnson was ejected from the game) to Will Muschamp’s panicky decision to try an onside kick to open the second half (even ESPN play-by-play man Sean McDonough said that reeked of “desperation”), Florida did not look like itself last night.

Safety Matt Elam said he and his teammates “prepared our ass off,” but it sure didn’t show on the field.  That’s not to take anything away from Louisville and coach Charlie Strong who did show up and did take the fight to Florida all night long.  But it was clear one team came ready to play and one team did not.




With QBs coming out of high school these days so savvy to the nuances of the position - looking off safeties, pocket footwork, field awareness - it was almost painful watching Driskel work last night. But in his defense, his O-line was just awful. They got whipped again and again.


Big picture: Florida as a school and program seemed to look down its nose at its date in the Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl. And when things turned south, the moment suddenly seemed to big for Florida and its coaches. A troubling sign moving forward.

Gamecock in ATL
Gamecock in ATL 1 Like

I'm so confused by this game. Yes, the turnovers were key to Florida's wins and losses this year (ask me how I know), but this is a team with the most impressive resume in college football. And yet they seemed clueless. I don't know what to blame it on other than not being into the game ... but it's hard to imagine someone not getting up for the Sugar Bowl.


On a side note, those were probably the best uni's I've seen all season by any team. Old school UF looked awesome. So much better than all of that pro combat crap that everyone wears ...


 @Gamecock in ATL Old school would have been orange jerseys, and the only way those uniforms could have looked any worse was if they had blue pants.


 @Gamecock in ATL That probably had a lot to do with it.  In 08, I blamed Bama's loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl on apathy.  There was just no logical reason otherwise.  What I don't understand though is that at least in that instance Bama had just been beaten in the SEC title game and had lost out on a shot to go to the BCS title game.  Florida didn't have that sort of letdown.  


I would have been more understanding of a Georgia loss against Nebraska.  At least their last game was a heart breaker.  Can't wrap my mind around Florida though.

gator in san diego
gator in san diego

Couldn't agree more about the the onside kick being a bad idea. To me it showed that there was no confidence that the halftime defensive adjustments that had worked so well all season would be effective. There is a lack of talent and continutiy on offense. The OC is new to the team and the SEC. Driskel is a true sophmore who played just a handful of snaps last season and split half of the snaps during the spring and summer during a quarterback competition. With a full offseason as the starter and receiving the majority of the attention, there should be some considerable improvement (at least I would hope) next season. All that said, the game wasn't too much fun to watch but the 1996 Fiesta Bowl is the standard (in my lifetime) for horrible. Last night wasn't anywhere near that bad.


I believe having mid week bowl games - post holiday - is a HUGE detractor from attending these bowl games.  Nothing like blowing a couple of your vacation days at the beginning of the year, after you have been off for a couple of weeks.  Also, if you have little kids, now you either have to take them (and they miss more school) or find a babysitter (and get the sitter to take them to school).  TV wants these games after New Years Day, but if moving the games to X day after NYD = Y increase in revenue, they need to lower some of those prices for the locals and/or the local bowl committee needs to encourage more local ticket sales.  Nothing beats seeing your team live, but traveling to a Bowl Game is expensive.  These leagues requiring increased Bowl Payouts is only passing the buck on to the schools (required ticket purchases) and ultimately the fans.



"Nothing like blowing a couple of your vacation days at the beginning of the year, after you have been off for a couple of weeks."


Don't know too many jobs that give that much time off @ the end of the year.



Also, the bowls were announced, when - the 1st-2nd week of Dec.?  Plenty of time to prepare for a trip to NO (even if you drove from Florida).



 With Christmas Day being on a Tuesday, it was easy to take 3 days off last week.

I don't know about you, but I'm married and have 3 kids.  Taking the family on a trip like that is a couple grand.  Spending thousands each year on airfare/gas, tickets, hotels, food after spending money on Christmas is a bitmuch.  Add in taking days off from work (travel day/recovery day) and it is pretty expensive.


When you have 30+ bowl games a year, this isn't the "special" thing it was only 20 years ago with 14 Bowls and you went Bowling only on those special seasons.  Florida should have been happy with their season and should have wanted to go to NOLA.  But going to the SEC championship game (and then maybe the BCS Championship Game) has become what SEC fans deem as special.  Miss St. hadn't been to a bowl in years and almost sold out the Gator Bowl 2 yrs. ago.  3 concecutive Bowl seasons later, they couldn't sell their premium ticket allotment.    


 @torris187  We also need flat-out more interesting games.  This bizarre conference tie-in system we've got is killing interest in the games.  It used to be that the winners of big bowl games had a shot at earning a national title.  Now, they are just glorified scrimmages outside of the BCS title game itself.  it also used to be that secondary bowl games had some level of importance or intrigue as well as at least your team played someone of comparable quality, a battle of bragging rights, in a cool location.  Now, the match-ups are often crappy and frankly it's a joke that a school like NIU would be in the Orange Bowl, an absolute joke.


1- Too many bowl games = supply higher than demand

2- Crappy match-ups = low quality product

3- Higher prices = discouragement to consumer

4- Greater TV exposure = cheaper alternative to satisfy demand


Actually, it's a testament to how special college football is that ticket sales are even as good as they are.  Logically, they should be worse.

torris187 1 Like

Economics 101.  If the tickets are not selling out, reduce the price of tickets.  Also, reduce the price of auxillary charges, like 20$ for parking, 10$ for a cup of beer (if played in a pro stadium), etc..  Maybe then locals around the stadium would attend the game and fans from afar would reconsider traveling to the game. 



"*  In hindsight, one wonders if the Sugar Bowl committee regrets not taking Georgia over Florida, selling a few more tickets, and perhaps getting little a bit better game."


The Dawgs would have loved to have gone!


We'll just leave the debate aspect on the other thread.  <:-)


@SouthernBoiSB True but they really didn't have a choice. Due to where Florida ended up in the final BCS rankings, the Sugar Bowl was obligated to take them.


Like I said, that debate's on the other thread.


I am 1 who believes that UGA should have bumped FL out of the spot due to that 2nd loss came in a game that only 2 teams (out of 14) participated in.  That & the fact that while they may have tied records @ the end of the reg. season, UGA beat FL & got the advantage.


Could not get over how many empty sections (not just seats) there were.  Never in my nearly half a century life have there been so many empty seats at the Sugar Bowl.  Can't believe UF fans, who haven't had much to cheer about since Tebow left town, could only sell 7,000 tickets of their 17,500 allotment to the premier SEC tie-in bowl in New Orleans.

I4Bama 1 Like

I know many GA fans and I can promise that they would not have been much more excited about being in the Sugar Bowl.  When you mentioned Nebraska they scowled.  The Champions bowl and the playoff may be the only things to keep the Sugar from ending its tradition of taking the most disappointed SEC team.  You are right, though, GA did deserve to go.


It was a horrible game for SEC fans. Ouch. If I was Florida fan, I'd complain. As an SEC fan, I am complaining. We are 3-3 in bowl games so far. Not up to SEC standards.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator 1 Like



Actually, that's not exactly the case.  The SEC went 6-3 in bowls last year.  The league went 5-5 after the 2010 season.  And between 2000 and 2009, the league went 48-31 (60%) in its bowl games.  


The SEC usually matches up with teams that slot higher in other conferences.  Florida, for example, didn't win its division.  Louisville was the Big East champion.  


In the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Clemson was the second selection from the ACC while LSU was the fifth pick from the SEC.  Gotta keep that in mind.  


That's not to defend Florida's shoddy performance, mind you, but overall, the idea that the SEC has to go undefeated in bowl season to prove its worth is a little off.  


Thanks for reading the site,




True Florida was the 2nd or 3rd Best in the SEC going into this game and UL was #1 in the Big East.  Keep this in mind though, the SEC has 14 teams and the Big East has 8 teams.  Being 1 out of 8 is almost essentialy being 2nd out of 14. 


Also, the Big East had 4 teams with the same in-conference record (5-2) 50%, while the SEC had 3 teams with the same conference record (7-1) 21% .   If you do a side by side comparision, the BE has a more even distribution when it comes to parity, while the SEC does seem to be skewed to the Elite teams of the conference.


This isn't to attack the SEC , but it does seem like the Big East gets a worse reputation than it deserves. 





 @SouthernBoiSB No, as you increase the amount of teams in a conference, but keep the same number of games played per team, the odds of teams with the same record increase. 




But with less teams in the conference, aren't the chances greater of more having the same record?


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