No. 22 Florida upset No. 5 LSU in Gainesville on Saturday, the 65th meeting between the two. This series has been around for a while, but the rivalry has gone to new heights recently, and it’s all thanks to a lot of moments accumulating over the last 12 years.
1. In 2006, the “jump pass” was born.
Florida scheduled LSU for homecoming, even though the spread for this top-10 battle was dead even. Senior quarterback Chris Leak was the starter during Urban Meyer’s Year 2, but the Gators had a unique weapon in freshman quarterback Tim Tebow.
He was used mostly as a situational runner on short yardage and goal-line downs, but his first career TD pass, to tight end Tate Casey, was on this jump pass, a throwback play from the 1990s:
"In practice, when we were running it with our defense," Tebow told SB Nation, "I just actually caught the ball, ran it to the line of scrimmage, jumped up, and all the linebackers went up, and Tate was open, so Coach was kind of like, ‘Well, that might actually work!’"
How the actual play ended up during the game was a bit different than practice that week, though.
"They snap me the ball, and I see Tate get grabbed right off the line of scrimmage," Tebow told SB Nation. "So I get to the line of scrimmage, and I jump and I try to buy a little time, and you can see me kind of double clutch it. Finally he gets off the jam, and I kind of give it a lot of air and throw it in the back of the end zone, and he’s able to make a good play."
2. 2007’s buildup: Tebow’s phone.
Tebow took over Meyer’s offense as a sophomore in 2007. LSU fans got ahold of Tebow’s phone number and bombarded it.
"Honestly, it just put a little fuel to the fire," Tebow recalled to SB Nation. "All the death threats toward my family and friends and stuff was a little much, but honestly it was just fuel to the fire and I was just so focused."
The calls started on Tuesday, and Tebow eventually turned off the phone. According to the Associated Press, he had to listen to each text and voicemail before being able to delete it.
When the Gators took a 10-0 lead, the QB taunted LSU fans with a phone gesture:
"It was not planned at all," Tebow said. "When I got to the end zone and I looked up right in front of the student section, and there were like 30,000 people giving me the bird, it was just instinct. Most of them had probably been calling me earlier that week, so it was just a little friendly reminder, saying, hey."
3. And then 2007’s game was an epic classic.
Florida was up 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter, but LSU scored two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth. The last was the game-winner, thanks to a LSU’s fifth fourth-down conversion, which set up a Jacob Hester touchdown.
4. In 2010, LSU beat Florida on the wackiest fake field goal ever.
Even though I witnessed this play in person, I still can’t believe it was pulled off. Florida came in at No. 14 with a loss, and LSU was undefeated at No. 12. The Gators pulled within three with 3:21 left. On the next LSU drive, the Tigers managed to get to the Florida 36 and then faced fourth-and-3.
The Tigers lined up to kick a field goal, then did the unthinkable — holder Derek Helton flipped the ball over his shoulder to kicker Josh Jasper, who picked up the bouncing ball and got the first down.
The play was reviewed and stood as a legal lateral. The conversion set up a 33-29 LSU victory.
5. In 2013, former LSU head coach Les Miles went on a glorious “hammer-and-nail” rant.
In 2012, Florida won a ground-and-pound, 14-6 victory. The next year, LSU won, 17-6, in Death Valley.
A reporter asked Miles about a contrast between the two games — how LSU had gone from being the nail to being the hammer. Miles didn’t like that:
Here’s what happens. Two very quality teams take the field and compete like a son of a bitch for victory. You know what? It’s not a hammer and a nail relationship. It’s an opportunity for an opponent to be equal, and to raise their level of play in such a fashion that they win. And that’s how this thing works, that in fact you respect the opponent, and he’s not the hammer, and he’s not the frickin’ nail, OK? He’s the opponent. You understand?
I’m just letting you know, I resent that. I resent the fact that suddenly, we were nailed. You got it? I mean honest to Pete’s. Shit, we’re a pretty good team last year. I thought we played like a son of a bitch in that statement. I felt differently than the nail, so you know.
6. In 2015, LSU converted a fake field goal ... again.
In the fourth quarter with 10 minutes left, LSU was faced with a fourth-and-13, and LSU’s Trent Domingue lined up for a field goal. Domingue ran around the left end for a touchdown to give his team a 35-28 lead, which was the final score.
7. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew brought things to new heights.
The bad blood got started after Florida, which was set to host LSU, postponed the game due to safety concerns from the impending threat of Hurricane Matthew.
Then came weeks of public, ugly, back-and-forth, open feuding between the programs, and Florida being accused by media members of “being scared” to play LSU. Finally, the game was rescheduled to Nov. 19 at LSU, with 2017’s game changing locations in return.
Florida played LSU’s hype rap song in the locker room afterward.
“[Florida players] got some guts; they got some pride,” former Florida head coach Jim McElwain said postgame. “They were called out. And you know what amazes me? People call people out when there’s actual tragedy happening. Unbelievable to me.”
Things haven’t exactly lightened up since then. LSU’s spring game was canceled from its stadium due to lightning, aaaand:
8. Florida named LSU as 2017’s homecoming opponent.
This added even more fuel to the fire:
Me, LSU fan— PodKATT (@valleyshook) July 6, 2017
Out loud: "I really don't get why UF is being so petty about this. I don't really care, they aren't our rival."
9. During the ‘17 game, there was a BAND CONTROVERSY.
Florida played “I Won’t Back Down” after the third quarter to honor Gainesville native Tom Petty. It made for an awesome scene at the Swamp:
Crowd rocks to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Very, very cool. pic.twitter.com/f93LTJl2fZ— Thomas Goldkamp (@ThomasGoldkamp) October 7, 2017
The LSU band apparently played while the Petty tribute was ongoing. This made some Florida fans really mad:
The LSU band’s explanation:
Clarification on the 3-4th quarter situation last night. As is customary and tradition for LSU for every game over several decades, at the end of the 3rd quarter Tiger Band always plays Pregame/Touchdown for LSU. The plan was for LSU to honor their decades-old tradition while Florida honored their singing tradition simultaneously. Then right after LSU finished their Pregame, a tribute was to ensue. To help facilitate this, the LSU band started their Pregame tradition early with :10 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter. At no time was it the intentions of Tiger Band to disrespect or interrupt a tribute of someone we consider a musical icon and apologize to anyone thinking this was the case.
10. LSU won, and the Tigers clapped back at UF’s coach.
During the Matthew rescheduling saga of 2016, Florida was accused in some circles of playing politics with the hurricane to avoid playing LSU. After the Gators won on the last play, McElwain was unsparing in criticizing LSU.
Jim McElwain: "It just shocks me that someone would question the Gators. The way I look at it (LSU) got what they deserve."— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) November 19, 2016
Well, this time, LSU won. Long snapper Blake Ferguson hit back:
If I remember correctly... pic.twitter.com/uLNNll5iuN— Blake Ferguson (@bferguson50) October 7, 2017
And tight end Jamal Pettigrew:
"The way I look at it they got what they deserved and it should have been worse" that's what they coach said last year, tables turned! ♂️— 80 (@_jamal80) October 7, 2017
And, in a video roast, punter Zach Von Rosenberg, with Ferguson’s help:
12. For the third year in a row: musical spite.
LSU’s forbidden its band to play the popular band song “Neck,” because of an explicit chant Tigers fans have attached to it. Well, that doesn’t stop Florida’s band from playing the song LSU isn’t allowed to play.