September 20, 2020

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Photo credit Josh Auzenne

The No. 5 Tigers will be back in action on Saturday night, playing host to No. 7 Florida, in front of a sold out Tiger Stadium crowd. Expect the atmosphere to be electric, as this will not only be the first time the Tigers get to see the Gators in Death Valley in the past three seasons, but it is also Homecoming for LSU. The Tigers opened up this week with a whopping 14.5 point favorite over the Gators. That spread has since dropped to 13.5 points.

There is no love-loss between these two teams, this rivalry dates back September 25, 1937. When LSU beat Florida 19-0 in Tiger Stadium in front of a crowd of 15,000 people. The rivalry has only gotten more heated from then. Jump forward 60 years, fresh off a National title win, the 1997 Gators came to Baton Rouge, heavily favored in the game. However, LSU was the one that would come out victorious on the day. LSU quarter back Herb Tyler, along with running back Tommy Banks, would have scores on the ground for the Tigers. Gator quarterback Doug Johnson threw two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown by Cedric Donaldson.

2006: The “Jump Pass” The Tigers went to Gainesville to take on the Gators. Senior Quarterback Chris Leak was the starter for Florida, but freshman Tim Tebow was in the rotation. LSU would go up early in the game, but the infamous “jump pass” from Tebow to tight end Tate Casey would seal the Gators victory. The Gators would go on to win the BCS National Championship.

2007: The Tigers go 5-for-5 on 4th down. Florida took an early 10-0 lead, LSU and Florida would then score two touchdowns of their own. Making the score 24-14 late in the third quarter. Matt Flynn would throw a touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 24-21. The Tigers defense would hold the Gators and Tebow from converting, and they get the ball back with a few minutes on the clock. The Tigers had a fourth and two in their own territory, and got the first. Less than a minute later they faced another fourth and short and converted again. LSU faced another fourth down at the Gator 12, Head Coach Les Miles called a dive play, and the Tigers converted, for the fifth time. The drive would end with running back Jacob Hester powering his way across the goal line with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter. The Tigers would win 28-24 and go on to win the BCS National Championship.

2010: The fake field goal. After trailing in the 4th quarter 26-14 the Gators had a kickoff return by Andre Debose for a touchdown making the score 26-21. After a defensive stand, Florida would get the ball back with about seven minutes left. Running back Mike Gillislee would cap off a long drive by Florida that drained nearly four minutes off the clock. Florida would convert their two-point conversion with a pass from quarterback John Brantley to Omarious Hines to go up 29-26, with a little less than three minutes. LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee drove the Tigers down to the Florida 36-yard line with 34 seconds left in the game. Head Coach Les Miles called in a field goal by kicker Josh Jasper. Derek Helton took the snap and threw it over his head on the fake field goal. The ball bounced right into the sprinting Josh Jaspers’ hands who was able to pick up the first down. Lee would then toss the game winning touchdown four plays later to Terrene Toliver with six seconds left on the clock. LSU 33 – UF 29

2016: Hurricane Delay Pt II: The game, originally scheduled to be played in Gainesville was cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew. But, after realizing that the SEC championship match was on the line Florida agreed to play in Baton Rouge on November 19th, on the terms that the Gators would host the next two matchups in Gainesville. The first half was a tightly contested defensive struggle, with LSU taking a 7-3 lead. The Gators scored a 98 yard touchdown pass after a botched field goal snap by LSU, taking a 10-7 lead over the Tigers. LSU would go on to tie the game with a field goal. Florida would then go on to kick two more field goals making it 16-10, their second field goal being set up by an LSU fumble on kick return. LSU came back and drove the length of the field in less than a minute, getting down to the Florida 6-yard line with less than 40 seconds. LSU would pick up five yards on their first two plays setting up a third and goal at the one. LSU would stop the clock with its final timeout and three seconds on the clock. In what appeared to be a broken play quarterback Danny Etling was looking to handoff the ball to running back Derrius Guice, who seemed to think it was going to be a pitch play. This caused the quarterback to pitch the ball back behind the play. Guice ran right before cutting back left, and got stuffed short of the goal line by several Florida defenders. Florida players and staff alike stormed the field. Wide receiver Antonio Callaway and Linebacker Rayshad Jackson celebrated the Florida victory by waving the Gators flag through the end zone.

This is where the rivalry has taken off in the past few seasons. In recent memory we’ve seen scuffles in pregame, players taunting other players via social media. Even a cat skeleton is being passed around by Florida players now, labelling it as LSU’s former mascot Mike VI. The Tiger died from spindle cell sarcoma, a type of cancer.

“It is much louder, there is a little magic going on at night when you walk in there, you can feel it. There’s a feeling of intimidation and domination. The fans are rowdy, it’s very loud, and it’s hard for the opposing team, especially on third down. They have to go silent count, it can be an intimidating factor.” Says Ed Orgeron on the atmosphere in Tiger Stadium.