Much of the hype about Week 7’s matchup between No. 10 LSU and No. 17 Florida centered on the Tigers’ s high-powered offense and the Gators’ elite defense, and naturally so. They are two of the SEC’s best units going head to head. But it was LSU’s defense that stole the show today, playing the best football of any unit on the field.
LSU repayed Florida for a 14-6 loss last year, winning this year’s game 17-6 in similar defensive fashion.
After giving up 60 yards and yielding a field goal on the Gators’ opening drive, the Tigers’ defense rose up and shut down Florida, leading the way to a hard-fought win. LSU’s offense (332 yards) wasn’t quite as dynamic this week, falling well below its season averages of 488 yards and 45 points.
The lone bright spot on offense was running back Jeremy Hill, who amassed 121 yards on 19 carries against the SEC’s best rush defense. It was classic SEC grind-it-out football for the Tigers today. QB Zach Mettenberger and his dynamic receiving duo of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, who had previously been torching opposing defenses, put up very modest numbers today.
But LSU didn’t have to be spectacular on offense, because it was on defense. It was easily the best game of the season for defensive coordinator John Chavis‘ bunch.
LSU (6-1, 3-1) absolutely dominated Florida (4-2, 3-1) defensively, limiting Tyler Murphy and company to 240 yards and just two field goals. After three weeks of steady improvement by the Gators’ quarterback, the Tigers made life very difficult for the fourth-year junior, who finished 15-of-27 for 116 yards passing and -14 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Time after time, Murphy forced rushed throws to unsuspecting receivers because of pressure from LSU’s defensive front. The Tigers racked up four sacks and constantly knocked Murphy to the ground, forcing a crucial fumble late in the game as Florida was deep in LSU territory looking to pull closer.
This was just the kind of defensive performance LSU has been looking for after six weeks of explosive offense and suspect defense. Now, the Tigers look like a more well-rounded team that can win if the offense isn’t clicking on all cylinders.
With the win, the Tigers are still very much in the thick of the SEC and BCS championship picture. If the defense continues to progress, LSU could really cause No. 1 Alabama some problems come Nov. 9 in a game that will go a long way in determining who wins the West division.