The No. 17/17 Florida Gators (4-2, 3-1 SEC) got a taste of their own medicine at the hands of the No. 10/10 LSU Tigers (6-1, 3-1 SEC), which dominated both lines of scrimmage and thoroughly outworked the visitors on the way to a 17-6 victory at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA, on Saturday.
LSU outgained Florida 327-239 on offense, racking up more yards on the Gators in a single game than any other team this season. The Tigers also converted 5-of-9 third down attempts and held UF to a paltry 109 rushing yards on 40 carries.
While Florida redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy was pressured all day long and even sacked four times, LSU signal caller Zach Mettenberger was not taken down once on the afternoon. He gained chunk yardage on UF’s cornerbacks by completing a number of nice passes and racked up more yards on nine completions (152) than Murphy registered on 15 connections (116).
Florida deferred the opening kickoff but still struck first, putting three points on the board at the conclusion of a 14-play, 60-yard drive that started at UF’s 13-yard line, ended at LSU’s 27 and lasted 7:27. Redshirt junior walk-on kicker Frankie Velez connected on a 44-yard field goal, the first of his career and longest for the Gators this season.
LSU did not take long to answer back as Mettenberger completed passes of 17 and 26 yards – and benefited from a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on UF junior defensive tackle Darious Cummings – to move the ball to the visitors’ 12-yard line.
A pass interference call on redshirt junior safety Cody Riggs gave the Tigers a second chance to punch it in the end zone, and they responded with a short touchdown to go up 7-3 just four ticks into the second quarter.
LSU threatened to score again on its next possession as Mettenberger completed a 29-yard pass to wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Down on Florida’s 25-yard line after the completion, Mettenberger negated the play by dropping the ball when going back for a pass. Redshirt junior nose tackle Leon Orr recovered the fumble for the Gators.
Punting the ball away after going three-and-out, Florida committed two more penalties on defense that helped LSU complete a scoring drive. Tigers back-up QB Anthony Jennings rushed in from a yard out to conclude a seven-play, 62-yard drive with a touchdown that put the home team ahead 14-3 with 5:14 left in the first half.
The Gators had one last chance before the half but squandered it after moving down to LSU’s 37-yard line. Unable to get anything going, Florida gave up possession by having Murphy pooch punt on 4th-and-5.
Unable to find success throughout most of the third quarter, the Gators took over at their own 49 with 2:14 left in the period as Tigers punter Jamie Keehn shanked an attempt just 33 yards. Florida moved the ball well at the start of the drive, gaining 47 yards on seven plays (including a holding penalty) but struggled mightily in the red zone.
On 1st-and-Goal at the LSU 7, UF lost three yards on two plays and then saw Murphy throw incomplete on 3rd-and-Goal at the 10. The Gators settled for a 27-yard field goal by Velez to drop their deficit to 14-6.
The Tigers wasted little time getting back on the board, using a 26-yard carry by running back Jeremy Hill to get into UF territory. LSU then kicked a 31-yard field goal that put them it up 11 points.
Florida got the ball back and gave itself a shot to score but ultimately failed. After failing to move the ball on three plays, the Gators attempted and completed a fake punt as junior punter Kyle Christy hit redshirt junior linebacker Neiron Ball for a 14-yard gain on 4th-and-5.
A handful of completed passes moved the ball down to LSU’s 20, but Florida would get no closer. Murphy threw two incomplete passes, the second of which was an overthrow on a would-be touchdown, and was sacked both on 3rd-and-15 and 4th-and-27 due to blown assignments. The second of the two sacks was at the hands of sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries, who also committed two costly false starts on the drive.
In the end, the Gators dropped their first league game of the season and second-straight against a top-10 opponent.
Florida will look to regroup next week when it travels to face Missouri at Faurot Field in Columbia, MO. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:21 p.m. in a game that will air in syndication on the SEC Network.