In a loss sixth-ranked Florida never saw coming, Saturday night’s 37-34 setback against LSU as a three-touchdown favorite is one that won’t long be forgotten in Gainesville, especially if it keeps the SEC East champions out of the College Football Playoff.
Heisman frontrunner Kyle Trask suffered three turnovers, Florida’s defense gave up a number of big plays to a struggling offense and Marco Wilson’s unsportsmanlike conduct flag for tossing a cleat 20 yards downfield during LSU’s final possession all led to the Gators’ worst performance of the season in an important spot.
Former Florida widget Chris Doering, an analyst for SEC Network, says the setback was ugly enough to potentially keep the Gators out of the final four conversation.
“Make no mistake, this is the most embarrassing (Florida) loss I can remember,” Doering said on Saturday nights SEC Final on SEC Network. “I’ve been a fan as a kid, a player, a guy covering it. With as much as was on the line, to not be mentally in it.
“They didn’t deserve to be in the national championship conversation. If you can’t go out there and handle a three-win team at home when you have as much on the line, then you don’t deserve to be in that spot.”
Florida will slip in Tuesday night’s fourth selection committee rankings after an unexpected upset loss against an LSU team that will finish with its worst record in two decade.
“All the things we did, you can’t win doing what we did tonight, no matter what’s going on, no matter who you’re playing,” coach Dan Mullen said after the game. “We lose the turnover battle. We turned it over three times, minus-three turnover ratio. We don’t score touchdowns in the red zone.
“We can’t make key stops when we need to defensively and we lose the special teams part of the game. It’s not a very complicated deal.”
The Gators now turn their attention to next week’s SEC Championship Games against Alabama. Florida will have to beat the top-ranked Crimson Tide and hope that’s enough to convince the committee to overlook its loss to LSU.