The BCS bowl game between the Big East and ACC champions is scheduled to kick-off at 7:30 p.m.
Louisville advanced to their first BCS bowl appearance by virtue of the Big East conference's automatic bid. The Cardinals finished out the season with an impressive 48-17 win over UConn, then claimed the outright Big East championship and their BCS bid when West Virginia downed Rutgers 41-39 in triple overtime.
"I feel like we're playing our best football right now," Bobby Petrino said. "Against USF, our defense had its best game of the year and against Pitt, our offense had its best game since the UK game. (Saturday against UCONN) was the time to put it all together."
Wake Forest knocked off Georgia Tech 9-6 in the ACC title game in Jacksonville Saturday. The Deacons don't boast any household names on their roster and aren't the most explosive offensively, but they're well coached and know how to win in a close game. WFU is 5-0 this season in games decided by seven or fewer points.
"When you get our backs against the wall, these kids respond," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said.
Riley Skinner, the ACC Freshman of the Year, leads a Wake Forest team that boasts nine All-ACC selections, including five named to the first team. Skinner, 9-2 as a starter this season, led the ACC in passing efficiency, completion percentage and interception rate.
"I never dreamed that Riley Skinner would play this good as a freshman," Grobe said. "Riley Skinner is a kid that takes great responsibility in taking care of the football and running the offense the way we ask him to."
ACC Freshman of the Year.
Wake Forest, who won their first ACC title in 32 years, will, like U of L, be making their first BCS appearance.
Louisville figures to be a solid favorite against the Demon Deacons. The Cardinals are 1-0 against the ACC this season, having beaten Miami 31-7. The Cardinals are 3-2 against ACC opponents under Bobby Petrino. Louisville lost to Virginia Tech in last year's Toyota Gator Bowl.
COMMON OPPONENTS Louisville and Wake Forest faced two common opponents this season – UConn and Syracuse. The Deacons opened their season at home with a 20-10 win over Syracuse, while Louisville knocked off the Orange in the Carrier Dome 28-13. Wake Forest notched a 24-13 win over UConn on the road, while Louisville capped their 11-1 season with an impressive 48-17 win Saturday over the Huskies at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
WF FINDS WAYS TO WIN Even the most avid college football fan probably couldn't name more than one or two players on Wake Forests' roster. But the lack of stars hasn't slowed the Deacons this season, whose most impressive victory was a 30-0 road win over Florida State.
"Well, I think you are going to see a team that plays really hard," Grobe said. "That's the most remarkable thing about this football team. People that watch us play, typically the comment is about how hard the kids play, how they fly around and seem to have fun playing football. We are really a football team without a lot of individual stars, but we've found a way to win some games. We're not the most talented group but we play pretty well as a team and the guys like to play"
HOMECOMING For the second straight year, Louisville's native Floridians will get an opportunity to end the season in their home state. 22 Cardinals hail from the state of Florida, including Kolby Smith, William Gay, Nate Harris, Abe Brown, Lamar Myles, Anthony Allen, Gavin Smart, Latarrius Thomas and Brandon Sharp.
Playing in the Orange Bowl should also prove beneficial for Louisville's recruiting efforts. The Cardinals are presently recruiting several of the Sunshine state's top prospects, including four-star LB Josh Bynes, three-star RB Rai-Shawn Wilson and three-star safety Joseph Nicolas.
FINAL RANKINGS Louisville finished the regular season ranked #5 in the Associated Press poll and #6 in the USA Today Coaches poll. Wake Forest is ranked #15 in both polls.