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Sugar Bowl betting preview, pick

The class of the Big East Conference this season takes on an SEC power when 10-2 Louisville squares off against 11-1 Florida in the Sugar Bowl Wednesday, Jan. 2 at the Superdome in New Orleans (8:30 pm ET, ESPN).

The early Sugar Bowl betting odds showed the Gators, who went 7-1 in SEC play but missed out on a berth in the conference championship game because of a loss to Georgia, as 13-point favorites over the Cardinals. Louisville started 9-0, lost two in a row, but then salvaged their season with a come-from-behind victory at Rutgers.

Faves are 4-1-1 ATS in the past 6 Sugar Bowls, while this game has trended UNDER in the last decade (7-3). [ More Sugar Bowl betting trends, matchup stats and more, click here ]

View Louisville vs Florida Odds and Stats.

Betting Line: Those siding with the visitors in this one saw the Cardinals listed as 14.5-point underdogs earlier this week at Bovada. Meanwhile, the over under line was 45.5 in early betting at BetOnline.

Louisville Bowl History

YearBowlTeam1ScoreTeam2ScoreTeam2LineATS win
1998Motor City BowlMarshall48Louisville29-3.5MARSHL
1999Humanitarian BowlLouisville31Boise State344.5BOISE
2000Liberty BowlColorado State22Louisville171.5COLOST
2001Liberty BowlBYU10Louisville28-2.5LOUISV
2002GMAC BowlMarshall38Louisville152.5MARSHL
2003GMAC BowlMiami (Ohio)49Louisville2813MIA.OH
2004Liberty BowlBoise State40Louisville44-9.5BOISE
2005Gator BowlLouisville24Virginia Tech35-9.5VTECH
2006Orange BowlWake Forest13Louisville24-10LOUISV
2010St. Petersburg BowlLouisville31Southern Miss282LOUISV
2011Belk BowlLouisville24North Carolina State31-1.5N.C.ST

Florida Bowl History

1995Fiesta BowlFlorida24Nebraska62-3.5NEBR
1996Sugar BowlFlorida52Florida State203FLA
1997Capital One BowlPenn State6Florida21-15Push
1998Orange BowlFlorida31Syracuse107FLA
1999Capital One BowlMichigan State37Florida34-1MICHST
2000Sugar BowlMiami37Florida206MIAMI
2001Orange BowlFlorida56Maryland2314.5FLA
2002Outback BowlFlorida30Michigan38-1.5MICH
2003Outback BowlIowa37Florida17-4IOWA
2004Chick-Fil-A BowlFlorida10Miami27-3MIAMI
2005Outback BowlIowa24Florida311FLA
2006BCS Championship GameFlorida41Ohio State14-7FLA
2007Capital One BowlMichigan41Florida35-10.5MICH
2008BCS Championship GameFlorida24Oklahoma143FLA
2009Sugar BowlCincinnati24Florida51-12.5FLA
2010Outback BowlPenn State24Florida37-7FLA
2011Gator BowlFlorida24Ohio State172.5FLA

How They Match Up:
Offensively, the game matches up Florida's No. 76-ranked offense (26.8 PPG) against a Cardinals defense that ranks No. 37 at 23.8 PPG. The Gators passing attack has averaged 143.9 yards per game, less than the Cardinals give up through the air (193.8 YPG on average).

Defensively, the Cardinals feature the league's No. 50-rated road run defense, allowing 155.4 yards per game. Florida, meanwhile, ranks No. 61 in rushing offense at home.

Last time out for Louisville, they were a 20-17 winner as they battled Rutgers on the road. Louisville covered in the match as a 3.5-point underdog, while 37 combined points moved the game UNDER for totals bettors. The Cardinals grabbed a Week 14 victory over the Scarlet Knights in their last game, winning 20-17 at Rutgers Stadium.

Florida won its last outing, a 37-26 result against Florida State on November 24. Florida covered in that game as a 7-point underdog, while the 63 combined points took the game OVER the total. Mike Gillislee tore up the turf for 140 rushing yards in the latest Gators game, a 37-26 win over the Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Louisville Cardinals Trends:
When playing in January are 1-1
When playing on turf are 8-2
After outgaining opponent are 8-2
When an underdog on the road are 6-4

Florida Gators Trends:
When playing in January are 7-3
When playing on turf are 7-3
After outgaining opponent are 8-2
When favored at home are 10-0

A few Cardinals at Gators trends to consider:
Louisville is 10-2 SU in its last 12 games
Louisville is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games
Florida is 12-1 SU in its last 13 games
Florida is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games