Florida’s College Football Playoff hopes just disappeared into the fog caking The Swamp on Saturday night in a stunning 37-34 loss to LSU. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Gators cornerback Marco Wilson with less than two minutes remaining kept a Tigers drive alive, allowing for kicker Cade York to nail a go-ahead 57-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining.
But this wasn’t just any unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. On third-and-10 with 1:51 remaining, LSU quarterback Max Johnson hit Kole Taylor for a four-yard gain, setting up a fourth-and-6. That would have put LSU’s offense in a game-deciding situation, except Wilson, in a bizarre move, threw Taylor’s shoe down the field. Officials immediately threw the flag and LSU was awarded a first down which allowed the drive to continue.
Late-game penalties like that can have dire consequences. In this case, it didn’t take long for the other shoe to drop.
Five plays later, LSU had made its way to the Florida 39-yard line. After a Florida timeout, York came on the field and nailed the 57-yarder in the fog with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Florida still had one more drive opportunity to tie the game or even retake the lead. The Gators offense was able to get into field goal range in just three plays, but Evan McPherson’s try was no good.
The Gators will still go to the SEC Championship Game to face top-ranked Alabama next week, but even if they win — and to be clear, they will be an underdog — their playoff chances just took a massive hit. Such is the agony of de-feet.