“Pour It On Sugar Strong”: Last Musings on the Sugar Bowl

For holiday gifts, my bride gave everybody in our Cardinal game watching gang t-shirts with a logo: “Pour It On Sugar Strong.”

Of course, we all forgot to wear them come game time.

As we know, the Cards terminated Florida’s Gators with extreme prejudice anyway. (It’s an “Apocalypse Now” reference. Ask a film buff.) Today I’ve donned that gift t-shirt.

This energized city is still talking. Every third vehicle has U of L flags waving from its window.

While the college pigskin planet was stunned and chatted up the Sugar Bowl incessantly, it was but a one day news cycle. Last night, the attention went to the Quack, who dismantled K State in the Fiesta Bowl. Today, the chit chat is all Johnny Football vs. Boomer Sooner, with a look ahead to that Tide/ Irish matchup.

My favorite story on the Cards’ W appeared in the Orlando Sentinel, written by Mike Bianchi. You can read it here.

I still haven’t had a chance to watch the replay, but I do have some final thoughts about the game and its aftermath.

* * * * *

Charlie Strong and his staff did an incredible job preparing the Cardinals for this game.

U of L took the field without a hint of intimidation. When the Gators woofed, the Cards ignored the distraction, kept their cool, and lined up for the next play. Louisville made its breaks, and didn’t sulk during the few ugly moments for the victors.

Dave Borbely’s O Line did a fine job, even though the Cards didn’t garner many yards on the ground, and Teddy B was sacked a few times. Up 7-0 midway through the 1st quarter, the Cards had it first and goal at the Gator 1. The line opened a hole for Jeremy Wright that was wide enough for a Mardi Gras float and a couple brass bands, playing “Feets Don’t Fail Me Now.” When Teddy B needed protection on 3d down, well, he got enough to complete 7 of 11 passes, all for first downs. Louisville was 2 for two when keeping it on the ground to gain the 1st.

Clint Hurtt’s D line gave up an insignificant number of rushing yards. They tallied five tackles for loss and three sacks. When Florida absolutely had to have a two point conversion after its last TD to stay in contention, Marcus Smith sacked the QB. Ball game.

Even though it was obvious the Cards weren’t going to gain significant yards rushing, Shawn Watson called just enough running plays to keep the D honest. And added some 5-10 yard West Coastish pass patterns to gain that short yardage. By the end of the game, the Cards O line finally wore down Florida’s D line.

Vance Bedford had the whole D ready. Preston Brown was a beast at LB. Andrew Johnson’s pick in the end zone was, duh, huge. Terrell Floyd’s pick six on the first play from scrimmage set the tone. There was something about the visual of him running like a gazelle down the sideline untouched with the pigskin, his dreadlocks waving in the breeze from under his helmet that was a catalyst for the team . . . and the Cardinal throng in the SuperDome stands.

* * * * *

I may be the only one, but I can’t help but compare Charlie Strong’s first signature win as a Cardinal coach to Denny Crum’s.

In his very first attempt, in his very first BCS bowl game as a head coach, Strong beat Florida, the school where he coached many years and won two national crowns.

It took Denny Crum three tries to best his alma mater UCLA in the Final Four, losing in the ’72 and ’75 national semi-finals before besting the Bruins for his first crown in ’80.

* * * * *

Louisville won despite leaving 10 points on the field.

Up 30-10, U of L had a first goal at the Florida 4, after forcing a fumble. That offensive possession went in reverse, resulting in a missed field goal. Another time they had three points wiped off the board due to an odd chop block call.

They stayed the course. They chewed up half the 3d Q on that missed FG drive. The drive that resulted in U of L’s final 3 points took a couple ticks less than 8 minutes off the clock.

* * * * *

Of all Teddy B’s amazing clutch plays during the win, my favorite was that 3d-and-14, laser strike between three defenders to Eli Rogers for 25 yards and “another Cards first down.” It kept the drive alive that resulted in Louisville’s 2d TD.

* * * * *

Did I hear the Sugar Bowl guy, during the award ceremony after the game, salute Cardinals fans and say, “Without red, we’d be dead?”

Or, did I just read it somewhere?

Either way, here’s another very important message sent — and received — by those dictators of the college pigskin planet: Louisville travels!!!!!

– Seedy K

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