Dec. 17, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky.- The University of Louisville football team is in its final week of preparations before taking a couple days off for the Christmas holidays and then departing on Dec. 27 for the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La.
The Cardinals, 10-2 overall, returned to practice on Dec. 13 and will continue workouts until the morning of Dec. 21, before the players head their separate ways to be with their families.
Louisville is preparing for one of the biggest games in school history, taking on fourth-ranked Florida. The Cardinals are facing their highest-ranked foe since 2006, when they defeated third-ranked West Virginia at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
"It would be huge. It would be the biggest win in the program's history," said senior offensive tackle Alex Kupper of a possible win over the Gators. "To be a part of that would be unbelievable; it would push us so far ahead of schedule and be huge for this program."
However, the Cardinals understand they are in for the challenge of a lifetime, taking on a team that is legitimately one game away from playing for the national title. The Gators enter the contest at 11-1 with the only blemish coming to Georgia, which lost to Alabama in the SEC title game.
"I get a chance to play against my old team, my old school," said senior cornerback Adrian Bushell. "Not many people are picking us to win. We have an opportunity to do something that we have been working hard toward the whole season. We have gone through winter workouts, spring workouts, summer workouts, and now going through 12 games of the season, we get to face the No. 3 team in the nation."
The Gators own one of the nation's top defenses, finishing fifth in the country in total defense, third in scoring defense and ranking No. 1 in pass efficiency defense. But where the Gators are extremely effective is up front, where Florida is big and physical.
"Florida is about defense," said Bushell. "They have a great defensive line and that's where the game is going to be won. At the end of the day, I have to stay focused. We have to go out and do our job."
The Cardinals have enjoyed an incredible season, which can be capped off with a great performance in the Sugar Bowl against the highly-respected Gators. With just 13 seniors on the roster, the Cardinals return nearly everyone next season and that team will be loaded. However, the 2012 chapter has yet to be completed, and the Cardinals can end a storybook season with a program-changing win.
"As a program, we set some goals out at the beginning of the season to be BIG EAST champs and try to make a bowl game," said Bushell. "Now, we are in a BCS bowl, and we are going to try and win it. We aren't going to lay down. We are going to give it all we got. For me, I was just excited when I saw the match-up. I just can't wait."
The Cardinals will have to wait a little longer to see how far their program has come, and where they are headed in the future. For now, the Cardinals are focused and preparing to show the entire nation the program's rise and what's in store for 2013.
The Cardinals have sold over 14,000 tickets to the Sugar Bowl and expect a bigger crowd in the "Big Easy."
"The city is definitely excited," said Bushell. "There are more people out in the streets asking about the football team. There is definitely a buzz in the city, looking forward to the Sugar Bowl."