The Stand Earns Gators Trip to Atlanta

The Stand

The Gators, somehow, beat LSU 16–10 in Baton Rouge today to clinch the SEC East. That sentence doesn’t even come close to doing it justice, though.

The Gators came in to the game as 14-point underdogs. The win is their biggest upset victory since at least 2004, when the Gators knocked off the eighth-ranked ‘Noles in the infamous Ron Zook Field Game.

So much craziness in this game:

  • A pre-game scuffle involving coaches and players? Leonard Fournette claiming he was playing because of that? (Right, like he was really going to miss his final game in Tiger Stadium.)
  • A totally random 98-yard Austin Appleby to Tyrie Cleveland bomb immediately after a dropped snap on a chip-shot field goal immediately after Caleb Brantley took LSU’s offensive line to school and then ate Fournette’s lunch on Fournette’s (likely) final touch in Baton Rouge immediately after true freshman Vosean Joseph crushed a scrambling Danny Etling, who looked like he was going to coast into the end zone?
  • How about Gators OC Doug Nussmeier dialing up run after run after run, then getting too cute with two straight passes in the third quarter to scuttle a promising drive? How about Nussmeier getting too cute again at the half-yard line in the fourth quarter and, instead of calling a simple dive to Jordan Scarlett, runs some toss play to Lamical Perine five yards behind the line of scrimmage killing a touchdown opportunity?
  • Or Jim McElwain taking two timeouts to the locker room to end the game instead of preserving a few precious seconds if the Gators needed a 60-yard howitzer from Eddy Pineiro?

But let’s be honest, no one will remember most of that because this game was about the goal line defense by the Gators front seven. The Gators gave up chunk yardage on straightforward runs and play actions early, but when it mattered most, they stepped up.

After an opening-drive, one-yard touchdown plunge by LSU RB Derrius Guice, aka Leonard Fournette Version B, LSU ran 11 plays inside the Gators seven-yard line: fumble, stuffed run, stuffed run, botched field goal attempt, stuffed run, sack, field goal, stuffed run, stuffed run (okay, fine, four yard run), stuffed run, STUFFED RUN.

LSU’s offense inside the Gators’ seven yard line over the last 47 minutes of the game produced one field goal, a fumble and two turnovers on downs.

The last play of the game, well, words won’t do it justice. It’s a play that you immediately know is going to be an all-timer. You knew that before the ball was even snapped on fourth down. Everyone knows where the ball is going from the half-yard line: Guice. Stop him and you go to Atlanta and play for an SEC crown. Don’t and you don’t.

So, just watch The Stand on fourth down that clinched the Gators the SEC East. The Stand that quickly hushed the people that called the Gators scared or worse. The Stand that immediately silenced 90,000 people in Tiger Stadium except for a tiny sliver of orange and blue. The Stand that had injured defensive stars Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone and Marcus Maye celebrating like the rest of us spectators, but beaming with a different kind of pride: this group will be okay without them next year. The Stand that, however improbable, keeps the Gators’ playoff hopes alive. The Stand that finally had the Gators beat the Tigers in a close game. The Stand that was 11 guys winning individual battles. The Stand that stuck two middle fingers in the air at LSU AD Joe Alleva for trying to capitalize on a national disaster at the expense of an SEC fraternity brother. The Stand the took away any question of this team’s resolve on the road. The Stand that had Marcell Harris grab Brandon Guice’s left leg and Jordan Sherit grab his right leg and simultaneously yank Guice backwards during his leap. That Stand that set off wild celebrations in Gainesville, Florida and Gator Nation everywhere.

Just watch Mick Hubert call The Stand.

“He didn’t get there! He did not get there!” is an all-time call by Hubert. (It’s right there with last year’s, “He’s going to score! He’s going to score!” as Antonio Callaway had Tennessee defenders huffing smoke.)

Brandon Guice and LSU didn’t get there today.

But the Gators did. And for the Gators, “there” is Atlanta.

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