Florida runs away from LSU

Gillislee sparks surging Gators

Mike Gillislee (raced past LSU’s Eric Reid for the first of his two second-half touchdowns, helping No. 10 Florida improve to 5-0.
Mike Gillislee (raced past LSU’s Eric Reid for the first of his two second-half touchdowns, helping No. 10 Florida improve to 5-0. –AP

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.

Mike Gillislee ran for a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns, bringing the 10th-ranked Gators to life in the second half as they upended No. 4 LSU, 14-6, Saturday.

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 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.’’

Linebacker Jon Bostic and safety Matt Elam provided big plays on defense. Gillislee once again carried the load on offense, carrying 34 times.

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.

The Gators harassed quarterback Zach Mettenberger, pretty much shut down running backs Spencer Ware, Kenny Hilliard, and Michael Ford, and completely wore down LSU’s vaunted defense.

Mettenberger was 11 of 25 passes for 161 yards, with an interception. LSU had 42 yards rushing, 3 more than what Alabama held the Tigers to in last season’s Bowl Championship Series title game.

‘‘I think our football team is sick, sick with knowledge that they could have played better,’’ LSU coach Les Miles said.

Gillislee turned in his 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 Kyle 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 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.

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 play was reversed, and Florida seized the momentum.

Loading Comments...