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January 2, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Johnny Manziel is lucky Sharrif Floyd didn't have a Heisman ballot.
For four quarters Wednesday night, Floyd watched as Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater shredded through a Gators defense that was only hours removed from being considered one of the nation's best.
"Of all the quarterbacks we have played, I feel he is the best one," Floyd said. "Manziel don't compare to him. Running isn't football. Bridgewater can throw the ball. He can scramble and make plays. I wouldn't take anything from him."
There were plenty of differences to point to in why Louisville was able to shock most of the country in the 2013 Sugar Bowl and dominate a heavily-favored Florida.
It all started at the quarterback position. It only took one play to prove that.
On his first snap of the game, UF quarterback Jeff Driskel misfired on a pass to Andre Debose - playing in his first game since an October 27 loss to Georgia - and it led to 38-yard interception return for a touchdown by Terrell Floyd.
Where Driskel hampered the Gators, Bridgewater led the Cardinals consistently with mobility in the pocket and a strong arm that made all the necessary throws. He spent the night dodging the defenders of a defense he had been told was supposed to stop him. The result was 266 yards passing and two touchdowns.
"I had no doubt in my mind that we would beat them," Bridgewater said.
On his first snap of the game, Bridgewater took a jarring shot from Gators linebacker Jonathan Bostic. It was ruled roughing the passer but it was the kind of play Florida has fed off so many times before, the tone-setting hit that gets in the mind of a quarterback.
Not on this night. Bridgewater took the 15-yard penalty to help start a 12-play, 83-yard touchdown drive. Florida would never again get within two scores of Louisville.
"Whenever you take a shot like that, it wakes you up, lets you know they're here," Bridgewater said. "I take my hat off to that guy for delivering that blow at me."
The chants rang throughout a sparsely crowded Superdome that was primarily filled with Louisville fans - "Teddy! Teddy!" They started an hour before kickoff and they continued all the way through a confetti celebration.
They were well-deserved, an ode to the MVP on a night when the unlikely team won.
"He's impressive," defensive tackle Damien Jacobs said. "He deserves to be ranked as one of the top quarterbacks in the nation for next year because I feel like we're the best defense in the nation and you see what he did to us."