BATON ROUGE, La. - Gambling at every opportunity, LSU stayed perfect.
Meanwhile, Florida's hopes of another national title appear to be over after a remarkable night in Death Valley.
The Tigers barely converted a pair of fourth-down runs before Jacob Hester powered over from the 2-yard line with 1:09 remaining, completing a stunning comeback that gave No. 1 LSU a 28-24 victory last night over the No. 9 Gators.
Tim Tebow shredded the nation's top-ranked defense for three quarters, giving Florida a 24-14 lead with 15 minutes remaining. He threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another.
But LSU (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference), ranked first in the Associated Press poll last week for the first time since 1959, kept rolling the dice and coming up with winners. The Tigers scored two touchdowns on fourth-down plays and another after pulling off a fake field goal. Then, on the game's decisive drive, they finally hit the jackpot.
Florida (4-2, 2-2) failed to bounce back from a last-play loss to Auburn the previous week, giving coach Urban Meyer his first two-game losing streak since he was at Bowling Green in 2002.
Hester, who finished with 106 rushing yards, bulled his way into the end zone for LSU's first lead of the game. When the Tigers knocked down Tebow's final long pass in the end zone, the record crowd of 92,910 let out its biggest roar of all.
With second-ranked Southern Cal losing to Stanford in a 24-23 stunner, there's no doubt that the Tigers will be No. 1 again when the poll comes out today.
"We took great strides in showing our character and ability to come from behind," LSU coach Les Miles said. "I like the way this team is coming together."
Backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux scored on a fourth-and-goal run from the 1 in the second quarter. Starting quarterback Matt Flynn pulled off a fake field goal that led to Keiland Williams's 4-yard TD run in the third quarter. And Flynn tossed a 4-yard scoring pass to Demetrius Byrd on fourth and goal with 10:15 remaining, setting the stage for Hester's winning 2-yard plunge with just over a minute left.