The No. 10 Florida Gators stood tall and proved that the SEC East is on its way back at home on Saturday, as they topped the fourth-ranked LSU Tigers in a slugfest, 14-6.
Saturday's game had all the look of a defensive struggle on paper, and that's exactly what played out on the field as LSU went to the locker room with a 6-0 lead. But Florida's running game took off in the second half as they've done all season, and their resiliency paid off with their biggest win in years.
Gators running back Mike Gillislee had arguably the game of his life, finishing with 34 carries for 146 yards and the game's only two touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel is growing up right before our eyes. He looks far from the player he was last year and has proved that his Gators are a national title contender. Despite trailing for the whole first half and some of the second, he only attempted 12 passes in the entire game.
We were all wondering if LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger could prove that he's worthy of his position, and he did little to sway his critics with a 11-of-25 performance for 161 yards and an interception.
In just one game, we've seen the balance of power shift tremendously in the Southeastern Conference.
Tweets of the Night
ESPN's SEC blogger Edward Aschoff pointed out an incredible statistic for the Gators late in the game, as the clock was ticking down on a Florida victory.
New York Giants rookie receiver and former LSU standout Rueben Randle had some choice words for the Tigers' play-callers late in their loss.
9 men in the box & u run the ball— Rueben Randle (@RuebenRandle) October 6, 2012
It was no secret that LSU's offense struggled throughout this one, but Sports Illustrated's Andy Glockner points out that Florida's "F" painted on the field could have a different meaning.
Funny that LSU's offensive grade for the game is already painted on the field.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) October 6, 2012
ESPN's official Twitter page is surprised that the Florida Gators are having this sort of success without some very well-known characters.
No Tim Tebow. No Urban Meyer. No Problem. The Florida Gators are back.— ESPN (@espn) October 6, 2012
Grades for Key LSU Players
QB Zach Mettenberger: C-
We all knew that struggling LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger had to get his form back if the Tigers would have any chance in "The Swamp," and he made no indication of any progress Saturday.
Mettenberger completed just 11 of his 25 passes, amassing 161 yards and tossing a costly interception that helped to jump-start the Gators.
He simply couldn't take care of the football and help sustain drives for his team, and it cost them the win.
RB Spencer Ware: C
Ware was non-existent in the running game, which spelled doom for LSU's ability to score touchdowns.
He finished with just eight carries for 21 yards, including 20 yards on one reception. Going up against a bruising Florida defense, they needed to be able to run the ball and at least move the chains.
The absence of Ware as a playmaker really hurt LSU on Saturday afternoon.
LSU Team Defense: B-
The LSU Tigers were getting after Driskel and the Florida backfield for the whole first half, but they ran out of gas later on.
Driskel rarely had an opportunity to complete a three-step drop without being bum-rushed early on. It looked as if the Gators wouldn't get past midfield all game, until someone slanted the playing surface downhill in Florida's favor and they started running the ball with ease.
LSU's defensive deterioration was a major component in Florida's second-half touchdowns and consecutive first downs.
Grades for Key Florida Players
QB Jeff Driskel: B+
Jeff Driskel isn't the type of quarterback you want when you're down two scores late in the game, but he's the perfect QB for a grind-it-out game like this, and that proved to be true.
He was annoyed early and often by LSU's demonstrative front four, but they began to wear down and Gillislee started to have success running the ball. That allowed Driskel to find open receivers and open running room.
As solid of a game as Driskel had, just 12 pass attempts shows that his team kept him in the game.
RB Mike Gillislee: A+
Mike Gillislee had the game of his life, and it's certain that no one in Gator Country will forget his name after the performance he had Saturday.
Gillislee has been banged up this season, but he still was able to carry the ball 34 times. Add 146 yards and two touchdowns, and you have a heck of a stat line for the Florida running back.
If he can continue to run the ball with this amount of effectiveness, he could be a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
Florida Team Defense: A
Florida's defense was given a gift in the fact that Mettenberger has had an awful season, but they made things even tougher for him Saturday.
They bent early on but didn't break, and kept LSU out of the end zone two separate times by forcing them to kick short field goals. Allow them to score touchdowns in those two instances, and this game could very likely still be going on.
The Gators also forced three turnovers on the day and stifled any effort for LSU to get a running game going.