LSU vs. UF: Heat of rivalry turned up several degrees

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LSU wide receiver D.J. Chark mocks Gator fans at The Swamp last year by doing the Gator Chomp after LSU beat Florida on Oct. 7. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

ATLANTA — A few years ago, the rivalry between Florida and LSU became stirred up a little bit by a Twitter debate over which school is the real DBU.

That seems tame now. Very minor stuff.

What really ramped up this rivalry was Hurricane Matthew two years ago, and what has followed in its path.

An intense hurricane cranked up the intensity in what was already a contentious rivalry between two teams from opposite sides of the SEC.

This thing has blown up.

It was evident on Nov. 19, 2016, when the Gators celebrated the Eastern Division championship with a “home” win in Baton Rouge.

It was maybe even more evident last season when the Tigers celebrated like they’d just won a championship with a one-point win in The Swamp thanks, in part, to a botched execution on an extra-point attempt.

Now, the rivalry moves to a new level of heat with LSU having to come back to The Swamp for the second year in a row thanks to the postponement and rescheduling of that game two years ago.

“To go there for two straight years, it’s going to be a war,” LSU defensive end Rashard Lawrence said at SEC Media Days on Monday. “And we’re expecting nothing less than that. From the first snap to the last it’s going to be a big-time game.

“It’s a big rivalry. They’re a great team. The biggest offensive line we play all year. Physical. And it’s a battle every play.”

LSU coach Ed Orgeron, the interim coach for that UF win in Baton Rouge two years ago, hasn’t been at LSU very long, but long enough to develop a good feel for the rivalry and what it means to both teams, especially given their recent history.

“Well, from what I know and me being from Louisiana and my history with LSU, it’s always been an intense rivalry,” Orgeron said. “Whether it’s intense or not because of those circumstances, I can’t say. But I tell you what, it’s about as intense a rivalry we have, and we respect the University of Florida and we look forward to going and playing a very good Florida team at Gainesville again this year.”

Many in The Swamp were offended by the way the Tigers reacted after last season’s victory. The players danced on the field, hugged, celebrated with their fans who had made the trip to Gainesville.

 It seemed a little much for just the sixth game of the season.

But the Tigers want everyone to know, that victory did feel like it was for a championship. Because going into the game, LSU was 3-2 and coming off a home loss to Troy, and the heat was intensifying on everyone.

The Tigers entered The Swamp knowing their season was on the line.

“It was a big, big win because at the point we were a 3-2 football team and it really could have slid either way,” senior tight end Foster Moreau said. “That win was pivotal for our season.”

Moreau said the Tigers are always ready and fired up to play the Gators. But they were especially jacked after getting a motivational talk from former LSU linebacker Duke Riley, who is now with the Atlanta Falcons, after the Thursday practice.

“I think what really changed was Duke Riley came and talked to us,” Moreau said. “He’s really a light-hearted guy. We were waiting to see that funny Duke Riley, but he really laid into us for about 20 minutes after practice.

“He talked to us about tradition and legacy and which way we were going to go because we could have gone either way. We could have gone 9-4 or 4-9.”

The Tigers went 9-4. The week after the win in Gainesville, LSU upset Auburn in Baton Rouge. The Tigers went on to win four of their last regular-season games, losing only to Alabama on the road by 14 points.

They ended up losing to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl. But that loss did not define their season. What did was the win at Florida and what followed in SEC play.

“It was crucial,” Lawrence said of beating the Gators.

“It was monumental,” Orgeron said. “What happened on the sideline is the leadership of the team came through. We’re winning this football game. And that catapulted us into a great win against Auburn.

“So, that win for us last year was monumental to prove that we can go and beat Florida on the road.”

Now they get to go back and try again. The Tigers say they’ll be ready.

“I’m looking forward to going back there this year,” Orgeron said. “I think Dan Mullen is an excellent coach. It will be a tremendous challenge for us. Again, that’s why you come to LSU.”

To play in a rivalry game like this.

 

15 COMMENTS

  1. I hope LSU is able to avoid a ten year collapse, which really has happened to the gators and even worse for the vols, all after losing a good coach.
    While LSU is a respected opponent, I do not hold them with the level of dislike, disdain or the that I would for other programs, so lets cool it on the rivalry stuff. they are fairly decent people, never a
    bad word, good food. would never make a similar comment about Georgia, although even they are below our level to consider a rival either.

  2. Isn’t it funny how opposing players after making a good play against us always have to do the gator chomp!! They wanna be Gators so bad they can’t stand it 😂. Some of them actually chomp better than gator fans…. lol!! Sorry guys,, if you don’t have what it takes to be a true gator , you have to settle for another SEC team.

    • I always find it strange if a Gator player does the Gator Chomp, it’s an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. When the other team does it (in an unmistakable mocking fashion) it’s perfectly jake.

  3. I hate all of the other SEC schools – even the ones we rarely play. I hated LSU since those 4th down attempts. I hated BAMA since the first SEC Championship game. I hated Auburn because they owned us in past. I hate Mississippi State just on GP. I hate Ole Miss because of the old mascot. I hate Texas A&M because they remind me of Florida A&M which looked like the Miami Hurricanes back in the day. I hate Arkansas because Bill Clinton was their governor and he implemented the three strikes law back in the ’90s. Which SEC school isn’t a rival?

    • I’m not some ultra conservative, southern traditionalist, but “hating” ole miss based on a mascot which represents the history of their state is a bit snowflake-y, IMO. They had hundreds, probably thousands, of African American players happy to commit to that school and play with that mascot roaming sideline, who didn’t complain once. I hate Ole Miss because they didn’t honor their promise to let the students vote for the mascot, and make Admiral Akbar, the true leader of the Rebel Alliance, as the mascot…

  4. LSU has always been a good, fierce, interesting rival. I look forward to this game every year. Of all the weird statistics out there, one of the weirdest is the home/away record in this series. Both teams enjoy tremendous home field advantage (great venue, huge crowds, etc). But not so much against each other. The road team does (almost) predictably well in this series. Go figure.

  5. Mveal2006-those comments reek of a losers mentality. I live here in BR and you don’t understand the level of vitriol these fans hurl at fans of other teams. I think they hate Gator fans almost as much as they hate Bama. I can’t stand lsu and believe you me-when they won that game that’s all they talked about for weeks afterwards! They’ve hated UF every since Spurrier used to come to their raggedy stadium and regularly beat the crap out of them. I may not have hate for them but I have a STRONG dislike for them and I love it when they lose. They were rejoicing over a missed extra point and acted like they won 60-0. Can’t wait till UF beats the brakes off of them this year.

    • I went to grad school down there ’75-’77, I never ran into that level of vitriol at any time, even tho I was a Gator and they knew it. What I did run into were some of the most friendly people and addictive food in the world. I would hasten to add, however, that was a generation + ago by now……the entire cultural landscape has changed all over Dixie, not for the better either.

      • I agree…I generally have a good time in Baton Rouge and with their fans when they come down. Food is off the charts and they have been for the most part the best opposing fans Only this asshat Alleva has made me sort of change that stance, but I am sure it will wear off with a bowl of gumbo 🙂

        Loser mentality is over the top It’s called growing up , and wanting your team to win every game…but knowing life goes on regardless of outcome

        • i don’t see how viewing LSU and Georgia beneath the Gators is a losers mentality, but I guess you could make a valid analysis where that is the case if you worked at it, probably something Freudian or something like that. In fairness, I do expect a hard fought game with LSU, and I will never forget that they injured our qb’s knee (bob hewko “the snake”) in 1980 and their qb Alan Risher shot us a bird coming out of the tunnel after half time (as I was there!) I know Bert Jones as their announcer has also suggested injuring opponents on their radio telecasts when they were down because I heard it, so I know all about their issues. but to me, they are like Ole Miss, you just cant really hate them, they just are so far below the space where the Gators function…in other words, they want to be at our level overall, but if we were at their level overall we would consider it a step down. if we lose to them it means we haven’t performed at the level we should be, no matter the year, the coach, etc. Zook beat em just fine, so they all should, that’s how I see it.

          • LOL…Pretty much sums it up for me too. They generally have similar athletes and it’s a good game…well post-Spurrier, who was 11-1 against the Cajuns. I was young but I do remember that Hewko injury.