3:30 PM ET, October 6, 2012
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- This was old-school football at its best, the kind of performance only Southeastern Conference loyalists could love.
And Florida -- yes Florida -- was the team putting on a show.
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Led by Gillislee and a dominant defense, Florida's grind-it-out victory avenged a 41-11 loss in Baton Rouge last season, handed the Tigers their first regular-season loss in 19 games and gave coach Will Muschamp a signature win in his second season.
Muschamp's transformation of the Gators from spread-offense speed merchants to hard-running street fighters seems to be complete. It was the program's first victory against a ranked team since beating rival Georgia in 2010.
"We wanted to hurt them," Florida defensive end Dominique Easley said. "We wanted them to feel the pain that we felt last year. We had hurt in our heart, so we wanted them to feel that same thing."
Together, they wore down the Tigers (5-1, 1-1 SEC) in the second half -- no surprise since the Gators (5-0, 4-0) have been doing that all season. Florida, which trailed 6-0 at halftime, also came from behind to beat Texas A&M and Tennessee on the road last month.
This one was even more impressive.
"They beat us down last year," Elam said. "We had to come back. We had something to prove. We had a plan to hit them in their mouth, and we executed."
Gators Strong in Second Half
Florida outscored LSU 14-0 in the second half of its 14-6 victory Saturday. In five games this season, the Gators have allowed just 13 points combined after the break. Here's a look at their second-half dominance to start the year:
|1st Half||2nd Half|
|Total YPG Allowed||172.8||111.2|
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
Mettenberger completed 11-of-25 passes for 161 yards, with an interception. LSU finished with 42 yards rushing, three more than what Alabama held the Tigers to in last season's BCS title game. The Tigers were 1 of 13 on third downs and finished with just eight first downs -- three on penalties.
"I think our football team is sick, sick with knowledge that they could have played better," LSU coach Les Miles said.
Florida credited new strength coach Jeff Dillman and the team's continually improving offensive line -- the same one Muschamp called soft late last season -- for the victory. Gillislee got props, too.
"I'll take Gilly over anybody," Muschamp said. "I tell him that all the time and I mean that. I felt that way in spring and going into fall camp. ... He's a Will Muschamp guy. He don't ever say anything, he just does his job, lines up, runs the ball. If you ask him to block, he's going to block. If you ask him to catch the ball, he's going to catch the ball. He just is a really, really, really good football player."
It was Gillislee's third 100-yard game of the season, and it came against one of the league's most feared fronts. Highly touted defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery were neutralized much of the day. Linebacker Kevin Minter had a career day, finishing with 20 tackles despite missing a few plays while dealing with leg cramps.
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Minter had two of LSU's five sacks in the first half, helping the Tigers hold Florida to 47 yards at the break.
But the Gators looked completely different after intermission. They went to a heavy package featuring two extra offensive linemen to run the ball -- they call it "God's play" -- and it worked to perfection.
Florida scored on consecutive drives by running on 17-of-18 plays. Gillislee ended both of them with 12-yard touchdown runs, one in the third quarter and another early in the fourth.
"They were definitely more physical than last year," Mingo said.
The Gators ran the ball on their final 25 snaps, gashing the Tigers between the tackles.
"Them boys was huffing and puffing," Easley said. "I was looking in people's eyes and they were scared. That's what we wanted. We wanted to take somebody's will. We like to take people's will, not just win the game. Make them remember this night."
Maybe the play of the game came between those game-changing, run-oriented drives. Elam stripped Odell Beckham Jr. following a 56-yard reception on third down.
Initially, the officials ruled Beckham was down when the ball came out. Replays, though, clearly showed the ball coming out before his knee hit the ground. The play was reversed, and Florida seized the momentum.
"It was a hustle play," Elam said. "It was all instinct. It was great effort that paid off."
Florida was so dominant that it could have posted a second consecutive shutout at home. But two seemingly silly plays helped LSU get points.
Bostic, who was a key cog in stuffing LSU's run, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the game's opening drive. Instead of facing third-and-17, LSU got 15 yards and an automatic first down. It set up Drew Alleman's 31-yard field goal.
Alleman added a 21-yarder just before halftime as LSU capitalized on Jeff Driskel's fumble. Driskel, who completed 8-of-12 passes for 61 yards, held the ball too long and then fumbled while trying to scramble away from Bennie Logan. Guard James Wilson had a shot at the loose ball but whiffed.
Mingo eventually came up with it, setting LSU's offense up at the 7.
Florida's defense made a stand, though, and forced the chip shot.
"That was typical 1980 SEC right there today," Muschamp said. "It was a physical, physical match. ... That's the difference between playing in this league and these other leagues you watch on TV. I know you guys like all these points being scored, but the quarterback won't make it through the season in our league."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Matt Elam stripped Odell Beckham Jr. after a long reception in between Florida TD runs by Mike Gillislee.
Gameball goes to... Gillislee ran for his third 100-yard game of the season with a career-high 146 yards and two TDs on 34 carries.
Stat of the game... No. 4. UF has won the past 10 times it has played the 4th-ranked team in the AP poll. The last time No. 4 beat UF was '86.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||1-13||7-14|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-0|
|FG||10:48||Drew Alleman 31 Yd||3||0|
|FG||00:24||Drew Alleman 21 Yd||6||0|
|TD||05:15||Mike Gillislee 12 Yd Run (Caleb Sturgis Kick)||6||7|
|TD||13:18||Mike Gillislee 12 Yd Run (Caleb Sturgis Kick)||6||14|
Florida outscored LSU 14-0 in the 2nd half on Saturday. In 5 games this season, the Gators have allowed just 13 points combined in the 2nd half. Florida has been even more dominant in the 4th quarter, outscoring opponents 41-0 in 5 games.[+]
Florida Gators - This Season
ESPN Stats & Information