LSU is bad this season. But it's still Hate Week.
Let’s not worry about the fact that the team is following up maybe the best season ever currently sitting at 3-5 with 18 scholarship departures due to opt-outs, transfers and suspensions this season alone. But whose problem is that? Surely not Florida’s. When the Tigers were in National Championship contention and raging for Joe Burrow’s Heisman bid last season, they pulled no punches.
Plus, this is LSU we’re talking about. This is the team Florida has had arguably the most consistently tumultuous bouts with for the past four seasons. Need a refresher? Let’s go.
There have been crazy LSU-UF games before this one. Many. But the Hurricane Matthew game, for whatever reason, laid the foundation for insanity to ensue EVERY. FREAKING. GAME. AFTER. Let’s recap.
The Gators were supposed to host the Tigers in October. A hurricane was supposed to hit Florida. The SEC rescheduled the game, because hurricanes are something Floridians are supposed to be afraid of, I guess. The Tigers thought they were inconvenienced and deserved home-field advantage. The Gators thought they deserved home-field advantage because they played in Baton Rouge the season before. LSU said Florida was scared to play them. Florida said, “Baton Rouge me.” (At least I’d like to think Jeremy Foley and Jim McElwain said that to Joe Alleva and Ed Orgeron when UF agreed to move the game.)
Austin Appleby was the Gators’ quarterback, but some of the team’s offense and all of the defense was good. Danny Etling was the Tigers’ quarterback, but some of the team’s offense and all of the defense was good. Game was pretty meh ‘til the fourth quarter (save for Tyrie Cleveland’s second-best-ever play as a Gator: a 98-yard touchdown).
When I say the fourth quarter, I mean the two-minute warning. Florida’s up 16-10, but LSU’s got the ball. And the Tigers are clawing their way to the endzone. BAM! Vosean Joseph almost knocks Etling six feet under.
Etling was the quarterback, but far from the face of the program. Derrius Guice, on the other, hand, much closer. Second-and-goal at the one: no good. Third-and-goal at the one (using a different running back): no good. Fourth-and-goal at the one:
The last one was long. Let’s keep this one short. Florida was down 17-3 in the third, but brought it to 17-16.
Eddy Piñeiro, who was a great collegiate kicker, had a chance to tie the game. He missed. No more points scored by either team. Final score bolded above.
This was one of the best recent games in the Swamp. We know this. LSU was 5-0 coming in with some third-string Ohio State transfer named Joe Burrow under center who had yet to throw an interception that season. Florida took an unnecessary L against Kentucky, but the team was on an upward trajectory.
The Gators managed a 14-13 lead at the end of the third quarter, but LSU was looking pretty good. Not long into the fourth, the Tigers took a 19-14 lead. Florida got it back a couple minutes later, but 20-19 with a whole lot of quarter left is scary.
You know what happened next. Joe Burrow threw a pass right into the hands of Louisiana native Brad Stewart, Jr., who returned the ball for a touchdown. It was glorious. We’ve all seen it. Let’s watch it again.
Donovan Stiner picked off Burrow’s Hail Mary attempt at the end of the game.
Oh yeah, and the Gators won.
Like I said, LSU had maybe the best season ever in 2019. In addition to an undefeated National Championship season, Joe Burrow won the Heisman, Joe Brady took a job in the NFL, all draft-eligible starters entered and most were drafted, including five first-rounders. (Ja’marr Chase opted out before the 2020 season, so feel free to count him too.)
However, during the fateful Florida game, the score was tied 21 all at the half. The game, up to this point, was a pretty tit-for-tat scoring extravaganza. The third quarter looked to be the same. Each team scored a touchdown. Then, that third-and-one call happened. You know, the one where Kyle Trask was subbed in after Emory Jones ran the first two downs? It was an obvious passing call, at least to LSU’s Derek Stingley, Jr., who picked off, leading to a Tigers score.
Yuck. We had to see it, though. After that, LSU held the Gators scoreless in the fourth while scoring one more touchdown of its own. Ballgame, Tigers.
Florida is currently a 22-point favorite over LSU. A true freshman is expecting to get his first start at quarterback. WR1 Terrace Marshall opted out a few weeks ago. True freshman TE1 Arik Gilbert opted out this week, with no word on if he'll stick around Baton Rouge next season.
In Gainesville, it's Senior Day in the Swamp. Kyle Trask is looking to take back the lead in the Heisman race. The Gators are heading to Atlanta next week with a shot to get into the College Football Playoff. Barring some unforeseen circumstances, this game will be different from the previous four. It's looking like it won't even be close.
But, is it still LSU Hate Week? Of course it is.
Photo Credit: Jordan Herald/@JordanHerald5/UF Football
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