LSU pulls off thrilling 49-42 upset of Florida with Ed Orgeron hot seat talk intensifying

·4 min read

Don’t count out Ed Orgeron just yet.

LSU entered Saturday’s game against No. 20 Florida on the heels of back-to-back losses to Auburn and Kentucky and dealing with a barrage of injuries to its top players. Two years removed from a national championship, the hot seat talk for Orgeron had never been hotter.

So how would LSU respond?

The Tigers were double-digit underdogs at home, but turned in their best offensive performance of the season in an emphatic 49-42 victory in Baton Rouge.

LSU entered Saturday’s game averaging just 83.3 rushing yards per game, the fourth-worst in the nation. Against Todd Grantham’s defense, LSU nearly quadrupled that. The Tigers went for 321 yards and three touchdowns on 45 carries with Tyrion Davis-Price carrying most of that load.

Davis-Price had 287 yards on the season when Saturday’s game began. Against the Gators, he matched that. Davis-Price set a school record with 287 yards on 36 carries. He also scored three touchdowns in the win.

LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price (3) runs for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price (3) runs for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Florida in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

The winning score, though, came courtesy of a fourth-down touchdown pass by Max Johnson. Facing fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Orgeron kept his offense on the field and they delivered. Johnson faked to the left and came back right, hitting Jaray Jenkins for the score.

On the ensuing possession, Damone Clark intercepted Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, the freshman who came on for Emory Jones and led a ferocious comeback.

Richardson threw for 167 yards, rushed for 37 yards and scored four total touchdowns in relief of Jones, but it was not enough. This would turn out to be LSU’s day.

LSU had big lead, Florida battled back

Thanks to two first-half interceptions — one by Jones and another by Richardson — LSU was able to jump out to a 21-6 lead late in the first half. 

Florida would cut that lead to 21-13 at the break when Jones found Justin Shorter on a Hail Mary as the first-half clock expired. 

It seemed like that play would give the Gators a boost going into the second half. Instead, Jones opened the second half by throwing a pick-six to LSU's Dwight McGlothern to make LSU's lead 28-13. 

That mistake from Jones prompted Florida coach Dan Mullen to make the switch to Richardson, the electric freshman who has shown flashes of brilliance but has served as the backup to Jones. 

The move paid off. Richardson led four consecutive touchdown drives to first tie the score at 35-35 and later 42-42 with 9:14 to play. The only problem was that Florida's defense could not get a stop. 

And when LSU went ahead with 3:30 to go, Richardson made a freshman mistake on the ensuing drive by throwing one into traffic for the decisive interception. 

What does this mean for LSU?

Orgeron's definitely not out of the woods yet. The Tigers improved to 4-3 with the win and still have Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M on the schedule. The Ole Miss and Alabama games are on the road. 

LSU is a program with national championship aspirations, and athletic director Scott Woodward was not the one who hired Orgeron. He's known for pursuing big-name coaches. And unless there is some miraculous run from this team over the second half of the season, a change seems more likely than not. 

Still, with such a banged up roster, Saturday's effort from the Tigers cannot be discounted. The play of the offensive line and rushing attack was especially impressive. It's a performance that will give Orgeron some breathing room, at least for now. 

What about Florida?

Florida dropped to 4-3 with the loss and is quietly 4-6 over its last 10 games, dating back to the end of the 2020 season. 

The defensive issues that have plagued the Gators under Mullen and veteran defensive coordinator Todd Grantham remain — especially against quality competition. 

The Gators have a bye next week before facing No. 1 Georgia. The last four games on the schedule — South Carolina, Samford, Missouri and Florida State — are much more manageable. 

Nonetheless, Mullen is going to face some difficult questions in the coming weeks. 

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