Think back to last season's 41-11 destruction at the hands of LSU. The Tigers scored five touchdowns that day. This time around they managed just five first downs, if you don't count the ones that came by penalty. Why, if not for a Jeff Driskel sack and fumble at the end of the half, Les Miles, the most improvisational mind in college coaching, would have left Gainesville with just one field goal to show for his efforts.
None of this means that the time has come for Florida to recapture all those national championship dreams, but LSU was in the BCS title game last year. The power in America's most powerful league is beginning to pivot, if nothing else.
“There was a whole bunch of regret left on the field at LSU's stadium last year,” said Florida's 321-pound guard Jon Halapio. “Today, our offensive line was running off the ball. We were finishing blocks. Pancakes here, knockouts there. It was just a great game. Last year we felt like were outtoughed, and we don't want that feeling again.”
Maybe outtoughed isn't really a word, but you get the picture. It's the same when Muschamp says Florida is “a more enduranced team.” The winner gets to write the story and choose the words. In 2011, when the Gators needed a bowl win over Ohio State to finish 7-6, there really wasn't that much to say.
All that frustration was flushed out of the system Saturday, replaced by a longing to get back to Atlanta, where the SEC title game is played.
Now South Carolina's visit to the Swamp in a couple of weeks is turning into more than just another Spurrier homecoming. There's a division to be won, and a multiplication of spectacularly solid efforts like this one suddenly on rush order.
“This is just one win,” Muschamp said. “It doesn't count for one-and-a-half, and it doesn't count for two.”
What beating LSU counts for is actually much more. It means the Gators have a championship coach again, the same guy who served as defensive coordinator on LSU's 2003 national title team and had those Tigers allowing just 11 points per game on average.
Doesn't matter what year it is, 1980 or 2003 or 2012. That's the right stuff, and Florida, which has allowed six points in the last two SEC games combined, is on the right track.
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