Photo courtesy of Gus Stark/LSU athletics
A team with realistic playoff hopes saw those hopes come crashing down on Saturday night.
After a terribly disappointing season, LSU had its biggest moment of the year. The Tigers went into Gainesville and stunned No. 6 Florida in a 37-34 thriller.
It marked the reigning national champions’ second straight win over Florida. The victory also earned the Tigers this week’s title of Fifth Quarter’s Team of the Week.
Florida finished with 609 yards of offense to 418 for LSU, but the Tigers took advantage of their opportunities. LSU forced three turnovers, which included a 68-yard return for a touchdown by Eli Ricks in the second quarter. The pick by Ricks came off Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Kyle Trask and gave LSU its first lead of the night.
LSU’s second interception off Trask came in the red zone and thwarted a scoring opportunity. A fumble by Trask late in the first half allowed the Tigers to kick a field goal and take a 24-17 lead into the locker room.
LSU was given new life late Saturday after a gaffe by a Florida defensive back. After getting what appeared to be a third down stop on LSU’s final drive, defensive back Marco Wilson was assessed a 15-yard penalty for throwing an LSU player’s shoe, which kept the drive alive.
Eventually, LSU would march inside the Florida 40-yard-line. With just 23 seconds remaining, kicker Cade York calmly knocked through a 57-yard field goal to give the Tigers the lead.
The Gators marched into field goal range on their final possession, but Evan McPherson’s 51-yard try sailed left as time expired. It was the first home loss for Florida all year.
LSU has already announced a self-imposed bowl ban, but the loss kept the Tigers from their first losing season since 1999. The best that LSU can finish is .500.
Quarterback Max Johnson passed for three touchdowns for LSU in the victory. His top target, Kayshon Boutte, finished with five catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Jaquelin Roy had two sacks for the Tigers. In addition to Ricks, Jay Ward also had an interception.
Trask passed for 474 yards for Florida in the loss. Kadarius Toney finished with 236 yards of offense and a touchdown on 12 touches.
If LSU is to finish 5-5, it will need to beat Ole Miss at home in the regular season finale. Ole Miss is 4-4 in its first season under head coach Lane Kiffin.
LSU has won the last four in the series, including a 58-37 victory last season in Oxford. During that streak, the Tigers are winning by an average margin of nearly 21 points. The contest in Baton Rouge begins at 3:30 p.m. ET and airs on SEC Network.