Photo courtesy of LSU athletics
Conventional and Les Miles were word rarely used in the same sentence.
The formerly LSU head coach had an unconventional way of doing things. But with two SEC titles and a national championship to his name, they worked more often than not.
On this day 10 years, Miles defied conventional wisdom with a late fake field goal. That move would set up the winning touchdown as the Tigers slipped past Florida in Gainesville, 33-29.
Setting the Stage
LSU was 5-0 and ranked No. 12 in the country as it arrived at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Oct. 9, 2010. The Tigers notched impressive non-conference wins over North Carolina and West Virginia, but had been forced to hang on the week prior in a bizarre win over Tennessee.
Florida was 4-1, ranked No. 14 and coming off a road loss to No. 1 Alabama. The Gators had won their last two contests against LSU coming in.
The Fake Works
What was once a 12-point lead for LSU early in the fourth quarter was gone. After an Andre Debose kickoff return for a touchdown cut the lead to five, Mike Gillislee’s 5-yard touchdown run capped Florida’s best drive of the night and had given the Gators a 29-26 lead with 3:21 remaining.
LSU needed just two plays to reach Florida territory on its ensuing drive, but on a critical 3rd-and-short, the Gators stuffed Stevan Ridley for a loss of two. Facing 4th-and-3 from the Florida 36-yard-line, Miles sent out kicker Josh Jasper to try a 53-yard field goal — or so it seemed.
Jasper had connected on his first two attempts, which included a 45-yarder, but his most important play of the night came by way of his legs rather than his foot. Lined up for the long field goal, holder Derek Helton took the snap and flipped a no-look toss over his shoulder to Jasper.
The ball bounced on the toss, but straight up to Jasper, who picked up five yards and a first down at the Florida 31. With 29 seconds left, quarterback Jarrett Lee went to work. The very next play, Lee hit Terrence Toliver for a gain of 28.
With the ball at the Florida 3, Lee spiked the ball to stop the clock before misfiring. On third down with 11 seconds to go, Lee again looked for Toliver. On a fade route to the corner, Toliver made the catch over a Florida defender and got a foot down for the winning score with six seconds remaining.
During the first half, the lead changed four times. Florida managed just 243 yards in the loss, but used a pair of LSU turnovers to cash on 1-yard touchdown runs by Jordan Reed and Trey Burton.
Jordan Jefferson’s 1-yard touchdown run gave LSU a 10-7 lead before Lee and Toliver hooked up late in the second quarter for a 38-yard touchdown to put the Tigers in front, 17-14. Jasper accounted for the first and final points of the half with field goals as LSU led 20-14 at the break.
Toliver finished with a game-high 111 yards receiving on six catches. Jefferson scored from three yards out less than a minute into the final quarter to push the LSU lead to 26-14.
The loss to LSU would be the second of three straight losses for the Gators in what would be Urban Meyer’s final season. Florida finished just 8-5 with a win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl.
LSU would start 7-0 before falling to eventual national champion Auburn. The Tigers ascended to No. 5 in the polls later in the season, but lost the regular-season finale to Arkansas. LSU defeated Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl to finish 11-2 and No. 8 in the final polls.
During an 11-win season, the Tigers won six games by seven points or less, including three where they scored to go ahead for good in the final minute. The second of those occasions in as many week happened on this day a decade ago.