I need you to sit down for a second, because what I’m about to tell you is indeed factual. In the year of our Lord 2016, the University of Florida won a football game with moments of competent offense. The Gators are headed to the SEC title game after a 16-10 win in Death Valley.
Les Miles is gone, but that doesn’t mean that the devil voodoo magic he spun so often against Florida didn’t rear its head again. With the Tigers on the ropes and treading water offensively for most of the afternoon, a final drive of 75 yards could have won the game for LSU. But Florida stood tall on the goal line and won the football game.
LSU head coach “Ed Orgeron says LSU RB Derrius Guice ran the wrong way on the game's final play,” according to ESPN’s David Ching. You can see what looks like momentary hesitation as he’s receiving the ball.
Somehow, Florida is in the SEC Championship for the second year in a row, and a date with Alabama is on the horizon.
Just add this to the list of weird Florida-LSU games.
If you’ve paid attention to this rivalry game at all, you know to expect the unexpected.
After a ton of back and forth between the two programs, the game was finally rescheduled for Nov. 19 in Baton Rogue.
So the game that always seems to be weird, competitive, and entertaining — nine of the last 11 games in this series were decided by an average of six points — is officially here, and the scheduling drama has made it even stranger.
After LB Vosean Joseph knocked the crap out of LSU QB Danny Etling ...
... the Tigers set up to kick a field goal, but couldn’t convert thanks to a botched snap.
The Gators took over at their 2-yard line, but the No. 95 offense in the land had the Tigers defense right where it wanted them.
Cleveland scored on the second-longest play in school history and gained more on this play than Florida had in the entire first half.
Austin Appleby, a Purdue transfer, matched up against Etling, who also played for the Boilermakers before coming to the SEC. They caught the attention of another West Lafayette product during the game.
Two Purdue transfers starting against each other today.. Danny Etling at LSU and Austin Appleby at Florida. You're welcome SEC!— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) November 19, 2016
Finally, this whole petty saga is over.
Don’t forget that it was a very long road to actually playing this game. After Hurricane Matthew forced a postponement, a very public slap fight ensued about who was right and who was wrong in the situation. Administrators took shots at each other, and the commissioner of the SEC said he didn’t do enough to wrangle the situation himself.
New SEC commissioner Greg Sankey failed to control the public messaging from LSU and Florida. During a live interview with CBS on Saturday, he failed to provide insight into the league's direction, because at the time, there wasn’t one. When the postponement was announced, LSU and Florida couldn't even agree on how to describe the game's status.
Fans/players maybe took shots at LSU’s recently deceased live mascot, too. Or maybe they didn’t, who knows?
When they finally decided when and where to play it, the game was scheduled for noon local time, much to the dismay of LSU fans, who love themselves some night kickoffs.
Would it be fun to have Verne Lundquist get an extra game in Baton Rouge during his farewell season, rather than force the poor man to call an SEC East game? Certainly, but LSU-Florida was determined to be ESPN’s inventory before the hurricane.
“ESPN retained the right to televise the game because ESPN initially selected the game for the original air date of October 8,” Vincent said. “The SEC Network lost a game on October 8 because an SEC Network game was moved to ESPN to fill the loss of the Florida-LSU game on that date, so ESPN assigned the November 19 game to the SEC Network.”
But the final run-up to the game was not without fireworks either. Leonard Fournette was initially reported out with that pesky ankle that has bothered him so much this season since August. Then this happened.
ESPN reported later in the game that LSU’s DBs got a little close to the Florida DBs during normal drills, and things got heated. Both secondaries lay claim to being DBU on Twitter, and the atmosphere was extra charged because of the bad feelings already in the air.
Fournette was actually in the middle of that scrum, and apparently asked Coach O to let him suit up after his little shove of a UF staffer.
Fournette was limited to 40 yards on 12 carries against a swarming Florida defense, and Derrius Guice didn’t do much better with 83 yards on 19 carries. LSU was 2-5 in the red zone, and had first and goal on the game’s final drive before running into a Florida brick wall.
After holding them down — and finally getting some help from the offense — the Gators are going back to Atlanta. UF’s Jordan Scarlett, who led a bruising drive to kill most of the clock and ice the game with a late field goal, said this on the field after the final gun:
“Alabama, here we come.”