A victory for No. 5 LSU over Florida at The Swamp on Saturday would have set up a marquee match against No. 2 Georgia in Baton Rouge next weekend.
# 22 Florida had other ideas.
The Gators, behind a strong rushing attack and some creative play reputation from Dan Mullen, drew a 27-19 fought victory. Florida crashed for 213 yards in the victory, with Lamical Perine and Jordan Scarlett the way.
Perine's two-yard touchdown with 8:48 to play gave Florida a lead it would not give up. And the winnings score was set by a clever play call from Mullen.
After 19-14 Mullen chose a trick game first and 10 from the LSU. Quarterback Feleipe Franks reached the close end of Lucas Krull towards the end. Looking as if the 6-foot-6, 255-pound Krull was being fielded, he glanced back at Frank, who had run out of the backcourt. Krull, a left-hander, delivered a perfect pass and hit Frank on the two-meter line.
At the next game, Perine was in the endzone for his second game, which gave the Gators a 20:19 lead at 8:48.
LSU would have three more attempts on offense. The first led to a punt. The second ended in Joe Burrow's first interception of the season, when Florida's Brad Stewart returned 25 yards for a win.
At this time, it was still a single lead, 27-19, for Florida. That meant the Tigers tried again to tie the game. Burrow brought his team towards midfield, but threw another interception, sealing the victory of the Gators.
What does this mean for LSU?
LSU is undoubtedly better than most had thought when the season started – but the ranking No. 5 was a bit of fool's gold. The Tigers were unable to make many explosive games in attack, especially in the passing game, at that time of the year, and that proved costly against Florida.
The hard drive initiated by the offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger looked good. The tigers went 75 yards in 10 games to take a 7-0 lead, but the offense looked predictable and unimaginative for the rest of the way.
The Florida defense line troubled LSU all afternoon, filling the LSU backs Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the process. Brossette was able to carry 79 on only three on a go-ahead drive early in the fourth, but he only had 16 feet on 12 carries outside the drive.
The magic of the burrow went out as well. The graduate transfer quarterback from Ohio State led the Tigers to win over Miami and Auburn, but could not match the same against Florida. He was 19-of-34 for 191 yards and two interceptions, the first two of his college careers. These two tips came in the final minutes as he tried to bring his team back from late.
LSU, however, has many chances to keep in college football playoff image. The aforementioned Georgia Bulldogs will visit Death Valley next Saturday, as will No. 1 Alabama on November 3rd.
What does that mean for Florida?
Add the Gators to the list of SEC East pretenders and put them quite high on the list.
Georgia is the class of this department, and everyone knows it. As things stand, No. 13 Kentucky is right behind the Bulldogs. Great Britain has made a lot of noise and can improve to 6-0 (for the first time since 1950) with a win against Texas A & M on Saturday night. Now, with the victory over the LSU, Florida has put in the right mix.
When UF lost to Kentucky for the first time since 1986, nobody knew what to do with the Gators in his first season under Mullen. Since then we have learned that Kentucky is real. And now it's pretty obvious that UF is greatly improved. The offensive is not exactly a juggernaut, but Mullen's creativity can bring the ball to its playmakers in space, as Jim McElwain did not even dream it.
And if you look at the schedule, Georgia is obviously on 27 October. But beyond that, every game is very profitable. A season with nine or ten wins will be an important building block for Mullen.
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