- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s return to a BCS bowl comes against some familiar faces.
When No. 3 UF (11-1) plays Louisville (10-2) in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2, the Gators will be facing three former coaches and three former players -- including former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, who is finishing his third season as head coach of the Cardinals.
Florida will be making its ninth appearance in the Sugar Bowl and first since 2010. The Gators are 3-5 in their previous appearances, with victories over West Virginia (1994), Florida State (1997) and Cincinnati (2010).
The Gators have reached a bowl game in 22 consecutive seasons, which is the longest active streak in the SEC.
UF is 2-0 against Louisville, winning 13-0 in 1980 and 31-17 in 1992.
Strong was UF’s defensive coordinator twice, from 2003-09 and from 1991-94, and he had two other stints in Gainesville (1988-89 and 1983-84). Strong was a huge part of UF’s two national titles under coach Urban Meyer. UF smothered Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, holding the Buckeyes to just 82 yards in a 41-14 victory. In the 2008 title game, Strong’s defense held Oklahoma, which averaged 54.0 points per game and had scored a Football Bowl Subdivision record 702 points, to just 14 points.
In addition, two other former UF coaches are members of Strong’s staff: running backs coach/special teams coordinator Kenny Carter and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford. Both were members of Meyer’s staff in 2008-09.
The Cardinals also have three former UF players on the roster. WR Robert Clark and TE Gerald Christian left UF in October 2011 before transferring to Louisville. CB Adrian Bushell left for Cedar Valley junior college following the 2009 season and transferred to Louisville in 2011.