Florida didn't score until Caleb Sturgis's 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
The Gators finally got in the end zone with a trick play in the closing seconds of the half. They changed personnel as if to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1, but lined up in a bizarre combination of swinging-gate and shotgun formations and handed off to Matt Jones.
The Gators tried to keep the momentum with a surprise onside kick to open the third quarter, but not only did Louisville recover, Florida's Chris Johnson was called for a personal foul and ejected for jabbing at Louisville's Zed Evans. That gave Louisville the ball on the Florida 19, from where Bridgewater needed one play to find Copeland for his score.
"We game-planned it and felt good about it," Muschamp said of the onside kick attempt. "We wanted to steal a possession at the start of the second half."
On the following kickoff, Evans cut down kick returner Loucheiz Purifoy with a vicious low, high-speed hit that shook Purifoy up. Soon after, Driskel was sacked hard from behind and stripped by safety Calvin Pryor, ending another Florida drive with a turnover.
"We had the right attitude, had the right mindset that we would go out and beat this team," Pryor said.
After Louisville native Muhammad Ali was on the field for the coin toss, the Cardinals quickly stung the Gators. Floyd, one of nearly three dozen Louisville players from Florida, made the play.
Driskel was looking for seldom-targeted Debose, who'd had only two catches all season.
"I threw it behind him, (he) tried to make a play on it, tipped it right to the guy," Driskel said. "Unfortunate to start the game like that."
When Louisville's offense got the ball later in the quarter, the Florida defense, ranked among the best in the nation this season, sought to intimidate the Cardinals with one heavy hit after another.
One blow by Jon Bostic knocked Bridgewater's helmet off moments after he'd floated an incomplete pass down the right sideline. Bostic was called for a personal foul, however, which seemed to get the Cardinals opening drive rolling. Later, Wright lost his helmet during a 3-yard gain and took another heavy hit before he went down.
Louisville kept coming.
B.J. Butler turned a short catch into a 23-yard gain down to the Florida 1. Then Wright punched it in to give the Cardinals an early two-TD lead over a team that finished third in the BCS standings, one spot too low to play for a national title in Miami.