The mystique of Death Valley helped LSU capture a 35-28 win against Florida. Both teams entered with perfect records and sat atop the SEC East and West division standings.
The game lived up to expectations with both teams battling until late in the fourth quarter. Then, in true Les Miles fashion, the Tigers won on a fake field goal as kicker Trent Dominque took a pitch 16 yards for a touchdown with just over 10 minutes remaining.
But it wasn’t just the Miles-coached trickery that made Saturday’s win a typical LSU at its best performance. The Tigers also saw another huge game from Heisman frontrunner Leonard Fournette, who had 180 yards and a pair of scores on 31 carries.
LSU also saw another solid performance from quarterback Brandon Harris, who threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-19 passing. Not bad for a player who competed on-and-off for the starting gig for almost a full year.
During preseason, many suggested that the Tigers were “a quarterback away” from contending for a national title. Both Harris and Anthony Jennings showed little in 2014 to make LSU fans feel optimistic of the quarterback position, despite an otherwise loaded roster.
But Harris has been an efficient game manager with 812 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions on 64-of-108 passing. Obviously, sharing the backfield with college football’s best player has its advantages.
Still, Harris is coming off back-to-back 200-yard, two-touchdown performances, which helps LSU validate its case as a legitimate contender.
“Brandon Harris is one of the key, fundamental guys to our success,” Miles said after LSU’s win on Saturday. “If he does the things he did tonight and continues to do that, we will be as good as we can be. Our quarterback gives us that chance. The wide receivers dropped a ball or two but I still think we can count on them, and I still think we’re going to be able to throw the ball very well.”
LSU also proved that its capable of winning a close game. The Tigers were challenged for the first time all season and managed to overcome adversity.
While the blowout victories do help the team’s case as one that should be favored, defeating lackluster opponents does little to prove legitimacy. The Gators are the best team that has faced LSU through six games and the final score reflected such.
With Florida and Texas A&M losing this past weekend, LSU is the only remaining undefeated SEC team. Sure, many suggest that Alabama’s lone loss to Ole Miss was a fluke and the Tide is still the team to beat.
However, LSU proved it belongs atop the SEC standings with a statement win over Florida. We’re three weeks away from what should the biggest game of the season: LSU vs. Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
But with an upcoming game against Western Kentucky and a bye week, the Tigers should enjoy at least two more weeks as the undisputed top team in the conference before a likely CBS afternoon matchup.
LSU has exceeded expectations to climb its way back to the top of the SEC standings. Saturday’s win was even more proof that Les Miles and co. are to be taken seriously and should be considered a legitimate contender for a conference title and a College Football Playoff berth.