Rapid Reaction: LSU's defense comes alive late as Tigers outlast Florida
It remains to be seen whether Florida’s Playoff dreams truly died or merely hit pause Saturday night, but LSU’s have never been more realistic.
The No. 5 Tigers took out the No. 7 Gators 42-28 before a raucous Death Valley crowd that lived up to the stadium’s moniker. It was LSU’s 2nd victory over a top 10 team and just like the first, against Texas, it was tense, physical and well-earned.
The Tigers and Gators traded blows for the better part of 3 quarters until the Tigers’ defense finally started to impose its will. LSU forced consecutive punts, giving Joe Burrow the opportunity to drive for a go-ahead score, and Derek Stingley essentially sealed it with a diving interception in the end zone.
Those better-late-than-never defensive stands gave LSU just enough cushion to get to 6-0 and state its case to be No. 1 in the country.
Burrow finished with 3 TD passes, the final one a 54-yard dagger to a streaking Ja’Marr Chase down the right sideline to account for the final margin.
Burrow threw TD passes on 2 of LSU’s first 4 possessions — against a defense that had allowed just 4 passing TDs in 5 previous games. And LSU’s running game contributed mightily, too.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a 57-yard run to set up the Tigers’ 1st TD, and he scored the 3rd on a 39-yard run around the left side. Edwards-Helaire had 121 yards in the opening half.
Florida equaled the Tigers at every turn. More important, they ate clock in doing so. Florida had the ball for more than 20 minutes in the opening half, which ended as it started — tied.
Kyle Trask was efficient, Lamical Perine ran hard and Emory Jones provided a spark. Trask threw 2 TDs, his 2nd just before the half ended, and Jones added 1 as the teams went to intermission tied at 21.
Florida picked up where it left off, opening the 3rd quarter with another 75-yard TD drive -its 4th 75-yard TD drive of the game. This one — a 2-yard TD pass from Trask, his 3rd — gave the Gators their first lead, 28-21.
It didn’t last long. LSU went 75 yards on its ensuing drive, tying the score at 28 on Edwards-Helaire’s 5-yard TD run, his 2nd of the night. Burrow was 4-for-4 on the drive for 47 yards and also added a 19-yard scramble.
LSU followed with its best defensive stand, which ended with the Tigers’ 1st sack and the Gators’ 3rd punt.
Four plays later, the Tigers were back on front. Tyrion Davis-Price burst 33 yards for a TD and 35-28 lead. It was the Tigers’ 5th TD in 7 full possessions.
LSU’s defense made it stand. The crowd erupted after Stingley’s pick and then somehow reached another level when Burrow hit Chase for a 54-yard TD.
The crowd spent the remaining 5 minutes chanting and celebrating. Tonight, and beyond.
They’re daring to dream on the Bayou.
When Ed Orgeron was hired, his friends talked about how he could motivate a statue. He’s done that and more. He’s made a fan base believe.
If LSU continues to play like this, he might end up with his own statue outside Death Valley.