This was old-school football at its best, the kind of performance only Southeastern Conference loyalists could love. And Florida was the...
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This was old-school football at its best, the kind of performance only Southeastern Conference loyalists could love.
And 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 Louisiana State 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.
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Muschamp’s transformation of the Gators from spread-offense speed-merchants to hard-running street fighters seems to be complete.
“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.
“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.”
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 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 Bowl Championship Series title game. The Tigers were 1 of 13 on third down 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.