Gators avoiding bulletin-board material in rivalry game

Florida defensive back Brad Stewart Jr. runs back an interception in the fourth quarter of the 2018 game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida defeated LSU, 27-19. [Doug Engle/Staff photographer]

In the football program’s 113 seasons, the Florida Gators have counted just a handful of opponents as rivals.

Yet it’s UF’s most recent rivalry match-up that seems to be the most hostile as of late.

When it comes to the University of Florida and Louisiana State University, there is no love lost.

The Tigers made that known Monday night.

“I don’t like them very much, I know they don’t like us very much,” Tigers starting quarterback Joe Burrow said. “That’s kind of been the talk around here. You just have to keep your emotions in check with a game like this.”

Burrow, considered a Heisman Trophy frontrunner midway through the season, is far from the only Tiger who harbors some resentment toward the Gators — especially with the way Florida emerged victorious last season in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

And the post-game celebration? The Tigers didn’t take too kindly to that, too.

“After last year’s game, I forgot that quarterback’s name, whatever, I don’t know his name, he was celebrating and running around like he won the Super Bowl,” Tigers defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko said of Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks, who is out for the season after having surgery on his dislocated ankle. “I don’t know if he’s playing this week. I hope he does. I look forward to getting after him.”

Needless to say, the Tigers may have forgotten, or weren’t aware of what happened to Franks, but they haven’t misremembered the rivalry, the previous insults or the never-ending “Defensive Back University” argument.

“We don’t like each other, I’m not even going to sugarcoat it,” LSU linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson said, noting the ill will didn’t just emerge last season. “It just something that goes with the history of the program. Just two great teams, just bad blood colliding, and very passionate programs. It’s something that’s going to be exposed Saturday night.”

Much of what fueled the hate as of late is well-documented: the Hurricane Matthew debacle in 2016 altered the team’s schedules, resulting in an in-flux week of preparation. As a result, the game moved from Gainesville to Baton Rouge, and the Gators escaped in dramatic fashion with a 16-10 victory, clinching the SEC Eastern division in the process. And after a win last season, much of that initial resentment has dissipated in the minds of the current Gators.

So, while the Gators have taken their fair share of shots on social media and in the media, most stopped short of saying there was “bad blood” between the programs.

After LSU took the first shot, some Gators opted for respect.

“Respect for them, they’re a great organization, team over there,” said wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, “but at the end of the day, we want to get the ‘W’.”

And Gators starting center Nick Buchanan, possibly looking to avoid presenting the opposition with any bulletin-board material, said the intensity on the field is simply the result of two evenly matched opponents.

“I’d say probably in terms of intensity, in terms of, like, evenness, that’s probably been the most even rivalry that I’ve experienced since I’ve been here. A lot of the other games have been lopsided, either in our favor or not, but I feel as though all the games that since I’ve been a part of this team against LSU have come down to a couple plays in the fourth quarter,” Buchanan said. ”I wouldn’t say bad blood — it’s big competition, because like I said before, it’s probably been the most even of the rivalry games that we have since I was a part of Florida. So it’s more good healthy competition than anything, I would think.”

While the Tigers may not share his sentiment, other Gators did acknowledge the rivalry has escalated as of late. There currently may not be as much animosity in Gainesville toward the Tigers, but there’s no escaping it: these teams don’t like each other.

“They’re playing with us right now,” linebacker Jeremiah Moon said with a smile. “But after the game, we’re going to see.”


    • Have you drive around Baton Rouge lately and compared what they see every day with what people in Gainesville see driving around daily? That and the fact they’re still pissed they’re not named the Gators and had to settle for tiggers, it makes their butthurtednessitis more understandable.

      • I must say, them cajuns ARE hardheaded — but man, I just can’t bring myself to actually hate ’em. The former AD there, Alleva, is another story and I’m on record for saying I wouldn’t ___ in his mouth even if his teeth were on fire. Hope they continue to do well after we lick them tho.

        Been to Red Stick many a time, and you’re right — it ain’t squat compared to Hogtown!

  1. You can feel the overconfidence in the air out here in Baton Rouge. The mudbug people have taken on the attitude of their QB. Looking forward to sitting behind the Pride of the Sunshine band on Saturday night while our Gators take a chomp out of the Tigers. No need to worry about Saturday night in “Death Valley”. I’ve been to at least a dozen Gator games here and a few LSU Alabama games. Its not even close to the mighty sound of a Saturday night (or afternoon) at Florida Field. GO GATORS!

    • You know that better than most, Galvez …. did them in once before, and will probably do it again. That said, Gator65 has run every stat worth mentioning, and we measure up. Big time. If we want it, and that’s what it’s going to come down to I think. That and working thru the hostile crowd noise, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we’ve already done that. So hot boudain and cold cous cous, come on Gators, poosh poosh poosh!

        • Man, I love cous cous! I have to stay away from hot boudain now, but cheese cous cous with a load of McIlheny peppers will cure what ails ya, Albert. Come to think of it, so will red beans and rice, but I do have to stay away from Natchitoches Meat pies any more. Same for hot links and rice. Man, getting old is sure a beotch!

  2. By the way, if your walking to the stadium and some coonass sticks a Gator in your face, its not fake. Saw it happen a few years back. Baton Rouge police had to arrest those Boudin eaters. Its amazing how just about every BR police officer you talk to hates the Tigers. The older fans are OK, but most fans under 30 still think their Amos Moses from down the bayou. GO GATORS! BEAT THE TIGERS!

  3. The more I read, the less I see of our Gators getting any respect. From being a 13 point underdog to Finebaum. I know it is going to be a tough slog come Saturday Night but man it would be great to win just to shut their pie holes up.

    Watched the 2016 and 2018 games today. I am ready.

  4. As far as Ive seen the “hatred” is one way. LSU reminds me of the lying dem congress who is full of hatred. Like the lies they made up about us not playing because of hurricaine Matthew, it was all in their mentally disturbed minds. You can even tell from their comments compared to the Uf players comments, the hatred is one way. You know what, hatred just eats a person up and distorts reality in their mind! That will all play into our benefit! They arent going to know what’s hit them and then their hatred will just grow exponentially! It’s all good!…for us!

    • You know Daz, you’re exactly right about hatred and self destruction. I played a lot of competitive golf as a youngster on the old Sunshine State Junior Circuit, and I can’t recall once ever hating somebody for being better than me or beating me when I thought I was better — a lick on me — and don’t remember anybody else being that way either except for one guy who actually was better than everyone else, and so hyper-competitive nobody would even speak to him. Years later as an adult I did a good deal of shooting competition, IDPA, IPSC and local events, and never once saw anyone lose it over simply losing a match. It’s called sportsmanship and being gracious in defeat. Of course, HC comes to mind immediately for an example of how to hate when you lose!