LSU (4-2, 2-2 SEC) rallied from 14-0 and 21-7 deficits en route to claiming its second straight win in The Swamp in Gainesville.
"I actually told them that I loved them after the game because there aren't too many times when you get feelings like this," Saban said. "You don't get a lot of wins like this so you have to have a lot of gratitude for the ones that you are fortunate to be a part of."
The story of the game, senior Marcus Randall came off the bench to complete 18-of-27 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Randall threw the winning touchdown to tailback Joseph Addai with just 27 seconds left on the clock.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of this team," Saban said. "I don't want to be harsh, but humiliated is what we all felt just one week ago. For these guys to respond and do what they did this week in preparation for this game, getting behind 14-0 on two turnovers, we never missed a beat."
When speaking of humiliation, Saban
is referencing the Tigers' 45-16 loss to
"I think this team matured tremendously in this experience, and sometimes we need these kind of experiences for young teams to grow up," Saban said. "I think our team did a lot of growing, in this week and in this game, with competitive experience. I think it will be a challenge to make sure that we continue to do that."
Throughout the course of the season, it had been obvious this team suffered from chemistry problems. On offense, the line play was suspect and the running backs hadn't showed up too many times this season. And LSU's vaunted defense had been playing well below expectations and their ability. But Saban said something clicked Saturday.
"I really felt for the first time in the locker room before this game and on Friday before we made this trip that this is the first time that this team has been grounded," Saban said. "All year long it has felt like we were standing in a boat. This is the first time after what happened last week that I saw this team get grounded and get together and do the things to go back to what made us a championship caliber team before."
There were a great many storylines
in this contest. The fact LSU bounced back from one of the worst losses of the
Saban era with a win in a hornet's nest like
"This is a team where I don't want to single out a guy, an offensive player, a defensive player, a special teams player, it was a team effort," Saban said. "It was about resiliency and how you compete and I was really proud of the way that we did that."
Saban said the team prepared with a
different mindset coming into this game, a much-needed change from the pressure
they felt going to
"I think the whole mindset we took going into the game, it didn't matter what happened to end the drive, whether we scored, missed a field goal, kicked a field goal, that we were just going to try and wear them out for 60 minutes in the game," Saban said. "That is why we ran the ball as well as we did. I thought we did a good job of mixing in the play-action passes. And we made a few plays throwing the ball down the field as well.
"We just wanted to compete in the game and try to beat the other guy and wear them out. I was really proud of how we played in terms of physical toughness in this game and on the line of scrimmage. I can list all the mistakes we made and penalties we had but sometimes when you are playing really hard with a lot on the line, those kind of things can happen."
The contest began to look eerily
similar to LSU's game the week before in
Randall capped LSU's third long drive of the fourth quarter with a misdirection pass to Joseph Addai in the flat from 10 yards out to finish a six-play, 50-yard march that started with 2:15 on the clock and crossed the goal line with 27 seconds to play to give LSU the lead for the only time in the game. Ryan Gaudet hit the extra point to give LSU the winning margin.
LSU set up the touchdown pass as
Addai knocked big holes in the reeling
LSU did appear to be sharp in the
first few minutes. The Tigers started on the 35-yard line after
Despite a five-yard penalty for
illegal motion prior to the first down play, Russell continued to have a good
grasp on things as he hit Davis for his third straight completion and a game of
14 yards to the Florida 29. But the Tigers couldn't get the first down as
Broussard lost a yard and then Russell had his first incompletion on a crossing
pass to Dwayne Bowe.
But the possession didn't last long.
Russell went back to pass and his effort was intercepted by Demetrice Webb at the 25 and he returned it 20 yards to the LSU 5 with Broussard making the touchdown saving tackle.
The Gators were set up with a first and goal at the five and after one incompletion, Ciatrick Fason rumbled in over left end for the five-yard score and the Gators had put the Tigers down, 7-0, with 10:18 on the first quarter clock.
Now the Tigers were in the worst possible position, gaining little on first down and Russell had to throw it away on second down. But on third down, Russell falling backwards off his back foot, lofted an ill-advised toss that was intercepted around the 10 by Florida's Jarvis Herring who returned the ball back seven yards to the LSU 3.
Quickly the Gators came on the field and scored easily on what appeared to be a shaken LSU team, on a three-yard pass to Tate Casey, his first collegiate catch, giving Florida a 14-0 lead with 4:28 to play still in the opening quarter.
The Tigers tried to get a drive going in its next possession and on the fourth play of the drive from the LSU 35, Russell was sacked for a loss of nine yards. Russell was helped from the field with what was called a sprained left ankle, bringing Randall off the bench to take over on a second and 19 from the LSU 26. Randall gained 12 yards on a quarterback draw and then found Justin Vincent for six yards. A roughing the passer penalty gave the Tigers a first down and two plays later the quarter ended.
With each play the confidence
appeared to be returning as Randall found Green for 18 yards down to the
The senior QB continued looking sharp as he hit Keith Zinger for 14 yards for a first and goal at the three. Carey
took the first down handoff and
tried to turn the corner, gaining one yard. Carey then went over right guard for
another yard, making it third and goal at the one. Broussard took the ball and
scored at the 12:30 mark of the second quarter and Ryan Gaudet make the extra
points to cut the
The LSU drive was 14 plays, 80 yards, taking almost seven minutes off the clock.
The Tigers were able to get out of the hole and make a couple of first downs, but a sack of Randall forced LSU
to punt from the 20 and
On the next play, Leak picked on
Prude again, as
For the second straight week, it would be LSU making the most of its two-minute offense, going 80 yards in 1:27 to cut the margin to 21-14 at intermission.
Addai opened with a nine-yard rush
and then Randall hit Addai for six, Addai for four and Craig Davis for 22 yards
Randall then hit Early Doucet cutting across the middle of the end zone on an outstanding pass to put LSU back in the game.
The Tigers allowed yardage on the opening drive by Florida in the third quarter as Florida drove from its own 27 to the LSU 35 before the LSU defense was able to get a stop going and forced the Gators to punt and when the Tigers got the ball back, it was obvious that the Tiger offense came out feeling it could get the job done.
Starting on its own 22, Broussard
rushed three straight times for 14 yards to the LSU 36. Randall then hit Doucet
for 19 yards to the
Both teams had drives in the
remaining minutes of the third quarter with
Randall again made things happen
with his feet, rushing for 12 yards for a first down and rushing of Addai got
LSU to midfield before Randall threw his only interception of the night on a
tipped pass that Cory Bailey intercepted to give
- LSU SID contributed to this report