Both Louisville and Wake Forest are making their first appearance in a BCS bowl game - the Cardinals as champions of the Big East, and the Demon Deacons as ACC champions.
Head coach Jim Grobe was named Coach Of the Year by the Associated Press after he led Wake Forest to an 11-2 season, thanks largely to the defense that led the ACC with 22 interceptions.
Both teams were beset by injuries to key players, most notably Louisville running back Michael Bush who entered the 2006 season as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate but broke his leg in the opener. The Cardinals were also without the services of quarterback Brian Brohm for two games.
In Brohm's absence, Hunter Cantwell delivered victories over Kansas State and Middle Tennessee State. Kolby Smith racked up 780 yards rushing and 7 TD's in place of Bush, while Anthony Allen led the team in touchdowns with 12.
Harry Douglas and Mario Urrutia combined for 2,029 yards receiving and 12 of the teams' 21 aerial touchdowns.
Wake Forest lost starting quarterback Ben Mauk for the season to a broken arm in their opening game, and running back Micah Andrews for the season after he tore his ACL in the third game.
The signal-calling duties were turned over to redshirt freshman Riley Skinner, and Kenneth Moore was shifted from wide receiver to the backfield. Skinner incredibly completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 1,780 yards, 8 TD's and just 4 INT's. Moore led the team with 434 yards rushing and added 289 receiving yards.
Louisville ranked third nationally in scoring with 38.9 points per game, but this team relied on the defense more in 2006 than in recent years as the Cardinals gave up just 16.6 points per game.
Wake Forest was 10th nationally in points allowed with 14.7.
The Demon Deacons haven't lost a bowl game since the 1979 Tangerine Bowl, but are making just their fourth bowl appearance since then. This is their first bowl trip since a 2002 win over Oregon State in the short-lived Seattle Bowl.
This is the ninth straight season that Louisville has gone bowling, but the Cards have only won two of the previous eight. They lost 35-24 to Virginia Tech in last year's Gator Bowl.