Spencer Ware rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns, and Reuben Randall had four catches for 127 yards and a touchdown in the LSU Tigers’ 41-11 thrashing of the Florida Gators in Death Valley. The LSU defense stood strong as well, only allowing 213 yards to the Gators’ attack, and they also forced two turnovers in the contest.
For the most part, the Tigers were in complete control of the game, and they dominated just about every facet. Their first two possessions showed that dominance perfectly, featuring two touchdowns on only eight offensive plays. By contrast, the Gators only could muster two three-and-outs and two punts on their opening two drives, and showed very little confidence in first-time starter Jacoby Brissett. In all, Brissett only attempted 14 passes in his first career college game, completing eight of them for 94 yards, a TD, and two interceptions. 65 of those 94 yards came on a single play, with a touchdown pass to Andre Debose chewing up that yardage on what was the only bright spot for the Gators all afternoon.
To make matters worse for Florida, they had absolutely no way of controlling the LSU offense during the game. They got very little pressure up front, allowing LSU to establish a very effective running game and to selectively pass the ball with impunity. In total, the Tigers only threw the ball 14 times, completing 10 of them for 215 yards and two scores. The rushing game was just as effective, chewing up an impressive 238 yards and a respectable 4.9 yards per carry average. It was a great balanced effort from the Tigers, and it demonstrated the qualities that have led them to three road victories over ranked opponents to start the year.
The Tigers also dominated in two other key areas, with a decided advantage of over 11 minutes in the time of possession department and also forcing Florida into a terrible night on third down conversions, only picking up two of the 11 that they attempted. Florida also committed 12 penalties in the game, bringing up the rear on an extremely inconsistent effort for the Gators.
In terms of bright spots for the Gators, there were few of them to note, but one of them was the solid play of Chris Rainey. He only managed 52 yards rushing and caught two passes as well, but he was one of the few Florida players that were actively involved on offense throughout the game. Most of the other players seemed completely dispirited after giving up the two early touchdowns to the Bayou Bengals, but Rainey still showed some tremendous burst and initiative in the contest.
Ultimately, however, the Gators simply did not have any answers for the LSU attack on either offense or defense, and they looked completely outmatched a week after getting brutally beaten by the Alabama Crimson Tide. For now, the Gators will have to prepare for another tough matchup next week when they head to Jordan-Hare Stadium to face the Auburn Tigers. As for the LSU squad that beat them, they will head on the road yet again to play the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium. In addition to that game, they have a home tilt the following week against Auburn, and then a bye week before their titanic clash with Alabama in Tuscaloosa on the first Saturday of November.
This game was the epitome of two teams headed in opposite directions, as the Tigers continued their surge and the Gators continued to falter. Both teams still have a tough road ahead in the brutal SEC, but only the Tigers seem well-equipped to take care of business moving forward.
And Another Thing……
An extremely controversial play took place in the first quarter of this contest, as LSU punter Brad Wing was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a fake punt that he took in for a touchdown, and the score was taken away by the officials. The reason the six points were taken off the board was because of the new NCAA rule that allows officials to take away points if a player is taunting the opposition before they cross the goal line, and it is the first time that it has been utilized.
On the play, Wing stretched his arms out for a brief moment close to the goal line, and had already put them back to his sides before he crossed the plane. Apparently this was enough of an “egregious” offense, as the rule explicitly states that it has to be, that the points had to be deducted. LSU head coach Les Miles apparently was okay with the ruling, and took it as a teaching moment for his young punter, but the reality is that it was a stupid call by the officials, and was not made in the spirit of what the rule was actually supposed to prevent from happening.
The NCAA needs to reinforce that spirit with their officials before this rule is utilized again, and this would have been a much bigger issue if the game had been closer.