Sugar Bowl betting preview: Florida Gators vs Louisville Cardinals odds, pick

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Florida has dominated the point spread in its recent bowl games and they are 14-point chalk on the Sugar Bowl odds menu against upstart Louisville. Check out the betting preview, trends and prediction, courtesy of Odds Shark.

Favorites have dominated Sugar Bowl betting in recent years, and Florida faces one of the biggest bowl point spreads as it tries to turn a profit against the 10-2 Louisville Cardinals.

The Big East champs try to crash the BCS party in a battle with the 11-1 Gators on Wednesday, Jan. 2 at the Superdome in New Orleans (8:30 pm ET, ESPN).

The early Sugar Bowl odds favored Florida by 14 points, but that spread dropped to 13 points in the early betting. The total was sitting near 47. Faves are 4-1-1 ATS in the past six editions of this game, and Florida is 6-1 ATS in their past seven bowls, according to the bowl trends report at OddsShark.com.

The Gators, in their second season under Will Muschamp, figured to battle with Georgia and South Carolina for the top spots in the SEC's East Division this year. And Florida started 7-0 this season, racking up victories over Texas A&M, LSU, Vandy and South Carolina. But the Gators' dreams of perfection ended with a tough 17-9 loss to the Bulldogs Oct. 27.

Full Sugar Bowl matchup report, trends, live odds and preview.

Florida then finished its regular season with four straight wins, including a Sunshine State showdown victory at Florida State. But the loss to Georgia cost the Gators a berth in the SEC championship game, and a shot at even bigger things.

Florida only averaged 338 YPG on offense this season, although led by RB Mike Gillislee, who rushed for 1,100 yards and ten touchdowns, it also averaged 195 YPG on the ground. The Gators really made their bones on defense, holding opponents to just 283 yards and 13 points per game.

Big East champion Louisville, meanwhile, was expected to contend for the conference crown this season, and began its quest by winning its first nine games, knocking off, among others, North Carolina, Pitt and Cincinnati along the way.

But the Cardinals ran into a buzzsaw in a loss at Syracuse, then fell at home to Connecticut in overtime. However, with the Big East title on the line, Louisville went up to Rutgers and rallied from down 14-3 late in the third quarter to win 20-17, earning the Big East's spot in a BCS bowl.

Led by QB Teddy Bridgewater, who compiled a 25/7 TD/INT ratio, the Cardinals averaged 426 yards of offense and 31 points per game this season. Defensively, Louisville held foes to 345 YPG.

These two teams played one common opponent this season. Back on opening weekend Louisville defeated in-state rival Kentucky 32-14, while two weeks later the Gators beat the Wildcats 38-0.

Florida has won its last four bowl games. Last year the Gators beat Ohio State 24-17 in the Gator Bowl. The Cardinals are 1-1 in bowls under Coach Strong, a former Florida assistant. Last year Louisville lost to NC State in something called the Belk Bowl 31-24.

Sugar Bowl Pick: The Gators will to try to shove the ball down the Cardinals' throat, while Louisville will hope to out-gun Florida with the talented but banged-up Bridgewater. Florida has the edge on defense, but the Cardinals have the better QB. We'll take the points with Louisville, courtesy of PickShark.com.

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