Louisville, led by highly acclaimed first-year head coach Charlie Strong, has accepted the BIG EAST bid into the 2010 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg, where the Cardinals will face Southern Mississippi.
“The Louisville and Southern Miss matchup is a big win for college football fans,” said Executive Director Brett Dulaney. “These are two programs that have always played an exciting brand of football and the matchup features a defensive-minded Louisville head coach against a Southern Miss coach, who has his team scoring nearly 40-points a game.”
Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said, “I’m very proud of this football team, but I’m especially happy for our senior class to get to a bowl game and have the opportunity to play one more game. Our team has worked hard and dedicated themselves to earn a bowl game, and I’m so happy for them. We are pleased to represent the BIG EAST Conference against Southern Miss in this outstanding bowl are looking forward to this outstanding opportunity.”
Tom Jurich, Louisville Vice President and Athletics Director Tom Jurich, added, “We are thrilled to be traveling to the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl. It’s a great accomplishment to reach a bowl game in Charlie’s first year here. He and our team have worked hard and done a terrific job getting us to this stage. I know our fans will be excited to follow this team to St. Petersburg. It’s in the heart of a strong recruiting base for us and we have a very active alumni group in that area. Southern Mississippi has an excellent team and is an institution in which we have great respect. We have many friends there from the competition we’ve had over the years.”
Louisville (6-6, 3-4) allows just over 18 points per game and has two shutouts this season against Memphis and Connecticut. The Cardinals offense is also impressive with running back Bilal Powell, who has over 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with five solid receivers who have a combined 140 catches and 17 touchdowns.
In just his first season at Louisville, Strong has the Cardinals in their first bowl game since an Orange Bowl appearance following the 2006 season. ESPN.com columnist Pat Forde has already tabbed Strong the BIG EAST Coach of the Year.
The coaching matchup between Strong and Larry Fedora of Southern Miss provides an additional storyline in that Strong is a former defensive coordinator for the University of Florida, while Fedora was once the offensive coordinator for the Gators, although they were not in Gainesville at the same time.
The game will be played at Tropicana Field Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.