But LSU didn’t have the one big play in them. Not this time. On Saturday, it was the No. 22 Gators who came through in the clutch, beating the Tigers 27-19 and marking the fourth-straight loss for LSU when they’ve played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida while ranked in the Top 5 (1965, 2008, 2012, 2018).
Trailing 20-19 late in the fourth quarter, Brad Stewart Jr., the only Louisiana native on the Florida roster, intercepted Joe Burrow and returned it 25 yards to seal the victory.
With one final opportunity to tie the score, and the ball on the Tigers’ 41-yard line, Burrow threw his final pass of the day and his second interception, allowing Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks to take a knee to run out the clock and dashing the hopes for a perfect season at LSU under head coach Ed Orgeron.
In the end, the reasons LSU got beat were pretty obvious.
The Tigers were dominated by the Florida offensive line. The Gators ran the ball 43 times for 215 yards, both season highs against Dave Aranda’s defense. LSU missed assignments and tackles.
In the fourth quarter, Florida ran the same play over and over — a simple pitch from Franks to Lamical Perine — and each time the Tigers reacted as if they were seeing it for the first time.
LSU also failed to record a sack for the first time this season.
The offense was no less problematic. LSU went 4-for-17 on third down. The passing game was inconsistent as the wide receivers dropped some catchable balls nearly as often as Burrow threw some iffy ones.
The offensive line continues to be an issue, too. Florida was able to sack Burrow five times and finished with 11 tackles for loss. Of course, Burrow didn’t help his own cause by holding on to the ball for a beat or two too long more than once.
Burrow also accounted for all three Tiger turnovers. Besides his pair of picks, he gave up a fumble on LSU’s second drive of the game. It has become a troubling trend for Burrow, who has five turnovers in his last three games. Prior to this stretch, LSU had gone 12-straight games without a giveaway.
The Tigers just aren’t good enough to overcome all of those deficiencies, either at home or on the road. Not many teams are.
Was this loss simply a bad day on the road to a tough SEC foe? Or was it the pulling back of the curtain that reveals a flawed team that will disappoint once again?
There’s no better way to start to find out than when No. 2 Georgia visits Tiger Stadium next weekend. A win would be a huge statement for the team and head coach Ed Orgeron. A loss could signal a spiral out of College Football Playoff contention.
But that’s the life of an LSU fan. Always living on the edge.