This could and should be a good one.
The last time the last two national champions met, that 1990 Notre Dame/Miami tilt? Here’s a recap:
It was a 29-20 win for the ‘Canes, but the best game in that series, as may be the case with this one, was an earlier one, the legendary “Catholics vs. Convicts” game, the one that started the rivalry, one of the best games in college football history.
So there’s some historical precedent for a rematch of a classic to disappoint.
Brandon James takes the opening kickoff to the Gators’ 32, and Percy Harvin takes the first pass of the game to the left flat for one or two.
Chris Rainey comes on and is swallowed up for a loss of three on second down.
Jeff Demps comes on for third down, but Tim Tebow, with weeks to throw, tosses one a little short to the defender in front of Harvin, who deflects it up and into the speedster’s hands. Harvin outruns the Tiger secondary to the end zone, and, after Jonathan Phillips’ extra point, in three plays, it’s Florida 7, LSU 0.
Wow. Nice start to this one.
The replay shows Harvin with a subtle push to the defender’s back, and, more importantly, Tebow amped on the sideline, getting hyped with Harvin.
LSU gets a nice return, up to their 35, but a screen is dropped and a dive up the middle gets just one on second down.
On third and nine, Jarrett Lee throws to the sticks, where no one but a man in blue is. The pass is high and was never going to be touched, so LSU will punt; it’ll be short of Brandon James, and gets downed at the 20.
The Rockette is watching this one with me, and I’ll be including some of her contributions. So far, the “Gator Bait” cheer is “cute,” and while she feels sorry for the religious Tebow, she acknowledges that he’s probably looking for ladies like this, and not her. (I think the Rockette’s gorgeous, thank you.)
On first down, an option pitch to Demps gets two; on second, a pass out to Riley Cooper gets another first down. That play is a pass to Harvin on a short out route, and he makes a move and takes it across midfield.
That play nets another first down, on a pass to Demps in the right flat, who turns it upfield, gains about 11, and nearly gets beheaded.
That first down turns into another one, on a pass to Deonte Thompson. This Gators offense is whirring like I’ve been waiting for it to all year.
An option pitch to James and a Tebow Smash combine for another ten yards and give UF first and goal at the seven. Rainey takes a handoff from Tebow and slithers through the line for three.
Tebow’s first incompletion comes on second down, on a roll to his left, and though Verne Lundquist raises the specter of the jump pass, Tebow instead fires a bullet that whizzes by a well-covered Harvin. Phillips converts the short kick, and, halfway through the first quarter, it’s Florida 10, LSU 0.
The most points the Gators have scored in the first quarter this year is 17 at Tennessee.
The kick return gets the Bayou Bengals to the 30, and Charles Scott plunges for one on first down.
The pass to the left falls incomplete on second down, and the draw to Scott on third down is bottled up by the Gators’ line. LSU will punt for the second time in the first quarter.
And on this one, James catches it, finds a seam, and gets all the way down to the LSU 45. Florida will start with great field position and a chance to deepen the hole the Tigers are in.
Tebow is pressured, steps up, runs around, can’t find anyone, and is sacked for a loss of two.
On second down, Rainey goes up the middle and is wrenched to the ground by Marlon Favorite; it’s by his facemask, though, and the Gators will have a first down near the 20.
Harvin gets seven or eight on first down, and a pass right gets the Gators another first and goal.
Tebow keeps it, and can’t get in, on first down, and on second down, the Tebow Smash is stuffed for no gain.
Tebow appears to get in on third down, but a delay of game will back the Gators up about five yards. Gary Danielson blames the center, because “Tebow called for it in time.” Yeah.
On the second third down, Tebow finds Percy Harvin on a crossing route, and he scores. Phillips puts in the PAT and it’s suddenly 17-0, and Verne and Gary are rehashing memories of Knoxville.
Trindon Holliday takes the kickoff back to the 40, and they’ll try to get a first down or something. A pass to Brandon LaFell in the right flat gets the Tigers their largest gain of the night: three yards.
Couldn’t last, though: Lee is picked by Brandon Spikes, who jumps a poorly-run out route on second down, and Florida’s going to begin its fourth possession of the first quarter at about midfield.
The scary stat so far: Florida has 186 total yards after Demps carries for a first down, and LSU has four. That’s so pitiful I can’t even justify making it a numeral.
After one, it’s 17-0, Florida.
I haven’t seen a blowout like this; certainly not in a game of this magnitude, but also not as lopsided as this one. Alabama’s rout of Georgia wasn’t even this bad; Georgia at least had a first down in the first half.
Remember this quote from Tebow: “Sometimes this year (football’s) been more like a business. I want to get back to having fun.”
Airmailing a ball to the end zone when up 17-0 is fun, sure, but also makes it second down.
Tebow throws left and there’s some miscommunication, because the pass hits the ground nowhere near anyone and a receiver’s running upfield.
Third down, and the pass to Harvin is stripped out, LSU’s Harry Coleman making the play of the night so far for the Tigers. Florida punts, and LSU’s returner signals for a fair catch at the 6.
Somehow, that doesn’t seem like the kind of field position Jarrett Lee needs.
It’s a bit loud in The Swamp on first down, but Scott goes left and equals LSU’s first quarter output with one carry.
Here comes Andrew Hatch, the Harvard transfer and designated running quarterback for the Tigers: he’ll go right on an option that fools no one, and it’ll be third and four.
Lookie there: it’s a first down, Lee throwing to Richard Dickson for five over the middle.
Lee, on first down, finds a man, LaFell. It’s going to get another first down.
Scott up the middle for four on a zone-blocking play. Hatch comes in for second down, and the option’s to the right; good blocking gets LSU up to about their 45.
The throw is to the right and to Holliday, and Janoris Jenkins introduces him rudely to the turf after a gain of two. Scott bursts through the line, gets six. It’s third and two.
LSU puts it on the carpet, Scott mishandling the handoff from Hatch, and A.J. Jones falls on it. It’s the first fumble by a Tiger tailback in an astonishing 612 carries, and it squanders whatever momentum LSU might have taken from that drive.
The Gators take over just shy of the 50, and
Nope, the handoff miscue was Hatch’s fault; on the replay, that’s too high for Scott’s hands.
Florida, with successive successful short runs, to the LSU 40.5. Third and three, and Tebow goes downfield to Harvin, who has it batted away by Coleman. Harvin comes up a little gimpy, and the replay shows that he tweaked his right ankle. He’ll jog off the field, and Florida will be forced to punt.
Another good punt by Chas Henry, and LSU will have to start at their own 15 after a fair catch.
Two plays for nine yards, including a nice catch by LaFell, and LSU will take a timeout to contemplate this third and one.
The Rockette: “At this point, would it be too early to say it’s a sure thing?”
Me: “It’s a good thing you’re not a Florida fan.”
Hatch, on a sneak, goes left, then right, and gets the first down.
Lee gets nailed by a blitzer on first down, but Joe Haden gets nailed for an illegal contact penalty.
Hatch runs on first down and gets six.
The Rockette: “When you say that Alabama’s doing well, you mean the University of Alabama? Red Tide?”
You see what I have to work with here?
LSU follows that first down with two incomplete passes, and, no, Verne, what Major Wright just did to Dickson on third down was not a “defensive” hit. That was offensive, and Gary is right to raise the specter of my nom de blog’s namesake.
The punt trickles into the end zone for a touchback.
Rainey goes left for a bunch on first down.
CBS is hyping a new comedy called “Worst Week,” which I can only assume is about the economy.
Rainey goes right for a bunch on second down.
Demps goes left off an option for a bunch on first down.
I think I’m sensing a pattern.
Demps goes up the middle on a spread-line formation, gets seven.
There’s a name coming shortly for the Rainey & Demps Show, but I don’t have it. Rainey gets a few going left, gets another first down.
Hey, there’s Percy Harvin! He plays for the Gators, too! A short catch for six for him, then, on a handoff, he gets about four and another first down.
Handoff, Demps, four.
Tim Brando does a game break for Penn State with “This is happening at Camp Randall,” and it’s the sort of this that you use to introduce footage of grisly car wrecks or children getting mauled by large animals. In this case, it’s Badgers getting sliced open by Nittany Lions, down 24-7 at home.
Urban Meyer almost vomits. That’s going to be a viral video shortly.
Tebow is pressured on second down, and he’ll have to throw it away.
A shovel pass of sorts to Aaron Hernandez, who gets just four. It’ll be fourth and two, but Hernandez stays down, and Meyer will have a while to mull the decision.
Phillips trots out and will be able to extend the lead to 20 with 54 seconds left in the first half. LSU calls timeout.
It’s from 34 yards, and Phillips’ kick is dead center, making it Florida 20, LSU 0.
The kickoff is caught by Keiland Williams at his own 14, and though the ball never went out, the call is a penalty, and LSU gets a chance at their own 40.
Jarrett Lee thinks little of your “chances,” and gets a delay of game for his lack of alacrity.
Now, after that flag, they’ll review the kickoff. That’s the first time I think I’ve seen a review after a play clock ran down.
The boos fall like a blanket, but Lee responds with his best throw of the night, to Terrance Toliver. It gets LSU across midfield, and a pass to LaFell in the flat gets another 11 yards or so.
Lee to Dickson gets about eight, but the tight end can’t get out of bounds, and they’ll have to take a timeout.
Sweet little trick play by LSU: a quick throw to Byrd, who flips it to Holliday, who scorches up the sideline to get the Tigers their first goal-to-go series of the night.
Two plays later, it’s a 20-7 game, Lee throwing to Chris Mitchell for a score in the corner of the end zone, and every Florida fan in the country is wondering about the rules on kickoffs going out of bounds.
The score is Florida 20, LSU 7 as we go to halftime.
There’s a fantastic baseball game going on, too: seven homers so far, and Boston leads Tampa Bay 6-5, and it’s the top of the fifth. I’m not saying you should switch, but I’m saying I wouldn’t blame you for watching an inning or two.
Gary Danielson, talking about LSU: “These players have been through so much, the triple-overtimes and all that.” Well, minus their quarterbacks and some of their defense.
Smart squib kick by UF negates Holliday’s speed; he’s cut down around the 20.
Lee gets nine on his first pass, but Scott is driven back on second down and it will be third and one.
Scott bears down and gets two on third down, and LSU will continue this drive.
Lee, to the right, to Demetrius Byrd, for another eight yards. LSU is smart to eschew the first-down run; it wasn’t working in the first half.
On second down, halfback Richard Murphy is in the shotgun, and he keeps it for two and a first down.
The quick first down pass is complete again to Byrd, but only good for three. Doesn’t matter much on second down, as Lee finds LaFell over the middle and he gets a first down.
A no-huddle, quick shot to Byrd, again for a short gain. Dickson gets a short catch over the middle for a couple of yards. Haden appears to knock down the third-down pass, but Major Wright gets flagged for pass interference away from the intended receiver, and LSU will have first down.
LSU continues to have problems running on first down, losing two. Trindon Holliday erases that and then some, getting more than enough to get LSU within the 10. On first and goal, Hatch absorbs a huge hit, then gets the ball across the line, and the score is, believe it or not, Florida 20, LSU 14.
Florida’s going to need to respond with points on this drive, because that one from LSU was a melange of penalty, third-down, and coverage miscues, and it was the sort of grinding, demoralizing series that swings Big Mo to its executor.
LSU’s kickoff is whistled dead, and there’s going to be an explanation at some point. Maybe.
It’s a delay of game. ON A KICKOFF.
Immediately, Gary says, “I don’t think there’s a team in America that plays with more poise than this one under Les Miles.”
So, from the 25, to #25, but Brandon James can only get to the UF 32. Tebow hits Harvin for four on first down, and Demps gets two on second and six.
Third down, and there’s a Tebow Smash. He gets three or four and moves the sticks.
A fake to Rainey turns into a keeper for Tebow, and he gets four. Demps breaks a tackle on second down and gets another first.
Tebow, with the rocker step, finds no one, runs for four.
The Rockette has something to say: “The helmets are nice and shiny. You should put that in your live blog.”
Tebow throws under pressure, hits Louis Murphy down the sideline, and the Gators will have first and goal at their 3.
Tebow starts right, spins, and strolls in on a well-designed run/pass option play. It’s 27-14, Florida, after the extra point.
The stylized “Florida” and “Gators” in the end zones look more like the New Nike look that Florida favors of late, but I would love some cursive fonts there.
Nothing doing on another squibbed kickoff, and LSU will start from their own 25.
Lee throws high and outside, and the receiver cuts in. Second down.
Holliday runs something like 20 yards, but only six of them are in the correct direction, and Lee can’t hit LaFell on third down.
A false start on the first punt attempt backs LSU up, and James squirts through three defenders’ arms on the return, getting something like ten yards. Seriously, he may be made of mercury.
The Rockette, upon seeing Albert leading the “Gator Bait” cheers in the end zone: “That’s cute.”
Tebow throws to Riley Cooper, and Cooper gets something like nine. Tebow scrambles for a few and a first up the middle on second down.
Option pitch to Jeff Demps, and he scores before I can finish whistling “Peter and the Wolf.” (No, seriously, I was whistling, and Demps scored.) It’s 34-14 after the extra point.
Holliday fields the kick at his 5, gets to about his 15. That facet of the game has been largely neutralized by the Gators tonight.
Jarrett Lee, still not so good on those touch-pass bubble screens. It’s second and 10.
Byrd skies for the second down jump ball on a great throw from Lee; the resulting first down brings another throw to Byrd, but Jenkins tips the ball and Wright greets Byrd with a pop on the way down.
Offsides makes it second and five. And offsides makes it first and ten.
At least the line trips up Richard Murphy for just a couple on that first down.
It’s Florida 34, LSU 14 as we enter the fourth quarter.
Lee makes a great throw, but, unfortunately, it’s to Brandon Spikes, and he’ll take that one to the house, making it 41-14 after the extra point, a familiar and comforting score for Gator fans. (Spikes does draw an unsportsmanlike penalty for punting the ball, but, eh, it’s sort of beyond the point where you care about that as a fan.)
Florida’s wrapped 20- and a 21-point runs around 14 straight from the Bayou Bengals. That’s how you’re supposed to put away SEC teams.
Trindon Holliday slips a couple of tackles, and LSU will have the ball near midfield.
Charles Scott gets three or four up the middle, but a false start on second down wipes it out. The next play gets it back, but the third down pass went through a receiver’s hands.
It’s fourth down, and LSU’s going for it, but this one’s a fourth and four, and the idea of a comeback right now is unfathomable. Heck, this game’s boring the Rockette to the extent that she’s now reading over a practice marine biology midterm. (Wait, no, that’s just a reflection on her: she can’t pay attention to sports for more than an hour at a time.)
Fourth and four, and Lee’s pass to LaFell over the middle flits by both the receiver and Joe Haden.
Tebow sets to throw (“Why are we throwing?” I ask out loud) and Tebow gets hit from behind, fumbles, and Tyson Jackson scoops it up and brings LSU to the Gator 31.
Screen to Keiland Williams, who gets upended after five yards. Another short pass moves the chains. Another one makes it second and six. Another pass to Dickson, who takes three separate hits on the way down and gets a first and goal. Another pass to Dickson nets five yards and six points. Colt David converts the extra point, and it’s 41-21, Florida.
(Oh, no, wait, illegal formation, take that point off the board. No, wait, put it back on.)
Gary blames the points on the “gassed” Florida defense, but I’m going to blame it on whoever decided it was a good idea to open the last drive with a play-action pass. (Cough, Dan Mullen, cough.)
LSU’s onsides kick bounces high and out of bounds thanks to nice job of batting it away by David Nelson, wasting great coverage. (Louis Murphy did some acrobatics he didn’t intend to on the play, thanks to that coverage.)
Demps, Rainey, Rainey: first down.
Rainey: to the five, but he fumbles (not really, according to the call on the field; yes, clearly, on the replay at first glance; no, not after his elbow came down, on a replay of the replay), and he’s down and in some pain.
Rainey gets up quickly and the Gators run a shovel pass for nothing on first down and Tebow Right on second down. The jump pass (which I, again, predicted) doesn’t work on third down, thanks to good coverage, and Tebow is sacked. Phillips makes the field goal, and it’s 44-21, Florida.
By the way: Tim Brando said Penn State would “jettison” in the polls. I direct you to the definition of jettison.
Trindon Holliday’s getting better as the game goes on, but starting a drive at midfield still won’t help LSU much.
Neither will not blocking Janoris Jenkins on a blindside blitz. LSU moves back to their 45.
Jenkins is again the best player on the field on second down, slipping a burly offensive lineman’s block and tripping up Scott. And on third, with a wrap tackle on a short pass.
He’s not the best player on fourth down, but his coverage is decent and Florida will hold on for the turnover on downs.
Jeff Demps, first down, thirty-plus yards. And the “O-VER-RAT-ED” cheers begin.
Kestahn Moore runs and DOES NOT FUMBLE. Yay! (And again! Double yay!)
Moore again, up the middle, for a couple of yards, as John Brantley replaces Tebow. UF comes out on fourth down with their offense on the field: I’d assume this is another run for Moore, and it is, and the senior, the captain, gets a garbage-time touchdown in The Swamp. Good for him.
After the extra point, it’s 51-21.
LSU, on their first play after the kickoff, fumbles. They recover, but, even in the dying moments of this one, wow, these Tigers look terrible. Much of that, tonight, was Florida outplaying them, but LSU didn’t have a chance after Florida’s first score.
There’s a deep pass on a third down, and LSU will have one last shot at the end zone, but they run with Charles Scott, who may have picked up the Tigers’ longest run of the game as time expired.
At the end of 60 minutes, it’s Florida 51, LSU 21. Closing thoughts in a bit.
That 51 is the most points scored against a Les Miles-coached team since Texas hung 56 on Oklahoma State in November of 2004, and the most scored against LSU in regulation dating back to at least 2002; the Tigers also haven’t lost by 28 or more in the SEC since before Miles arrived, going down 45-16 to Georgia in 2004.
Florida’s speed spread, led early by Percy Harvin and late by the R & D Department (that would be Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps), shredded LSU’s defense, rolling up 265 rushing yards and posting a gaudy 6.5 yards-per-carry.
And yet, LSU had their chances, closing to within six thanks to a questionable call on a kickoff at the end of the first half and a strong drive to start the second, but, unlike so many other times Florida’s faced adversity in the last two years, these Gators responded, ripping off 31 second-half points, including 17 straight after LSU’s run, to bury the Tigers and make any memories of last year’s collapse in Death Valley quite distant by comparison.
The key to the game wasn’t just Florida’s speed; the trench Gators manhandled their opposite sides, pressuring Jarrett Lee into bad throws, stifling the Charles Scott-led rushing attack, and opening gaping holes for their pint-sized sprinters to fly through. The two together make this team a formidable one indeed; this was one of the scarier performances by a team this year.
And though Tim Tebow was not The Show tonight, he was quietly more efficient and more effective for a full game than he has been since 2007. This was a complete Florida team against a very shaky LSU squad, and the way the Gators played magnified any flaws.
See you tomorrow (or Monday) for The Hangover Cure.