GatorZone.com Senior Writer
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU's high-powered offense didn't light up the stat sheet or scoreboard against the Florida defense.
It didn't have to, either.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger engineered a pair of long touchdown drives, tailback Jeremy Hill rushed for 121 yards and the LSU defense overwhelmed quarterback Tyler Murphy and the Florida offense. That combination was more than enough for the 10th-ranked Tigers beat up and beat down the Gators 17-6 in their Southeastern Conference showdown at "Death Valley."
Fullback J.C. Copeland scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter and wildcat quarterback Anthony Jennings added another 1-yarder in the second period. The Tigers (6-1, 3-1) also got a 31-yard field goal from Colby Delahoussaye in the fourth quarter, forcing the Gators (4-2, 3-1) to play for two scores.
They couldn't get one.
In fact, the only scores Florida managed on the day were two field goals from Frankie Velez, the walk-on from Ocala, Fla., who got the weekend nod over incumbent kickers Austin Hardin and Brad Phillips. Velez was good on both his attempts, from 44 and 27 yards, but the Gators needed much more.
For the game, Florida managed just 240 yards of total offense; just 94 in the first half. In his third start since taking over for injured Jeff Driskel, Murphy went 15 of 21 for just 115 yards in facing his best opponent yet and was sacked four times by an LSU defense that came in allowing nearly 25 points per game but teed off on Murphy all day.
One of UF's lone bright spots on the day came courtesy of freshman tailback Kelvin Taylor, who replaced injured Matt Jones (knee) and carried 10 times for 52 yards.
The loss came three hours after SEC East Division rival Georgia lost at Missouri, which assumed first place in the division by remaining undefeated at 6-0 overall and 2-0 in league play.
The Gators play at Missouri next week, meaning a win there would put them right back in the thick of the East race and unbeaten against division foes.
LSU's two scoring drives went for 60 yards on 14 plays and 62 yards in eight. Both were marched into the teeth of a UF defense that came in ranked No. 1 in the SEC in yards allowed (217 per game). Mettenberger hit some big third-down passes against the UF secondary and also benefitted from key third-down pass interference penalties on both TD drives; the first against nickelback Cody Riggs on a third-and-6 from the UF seven; the second against cornerback Marcus Roberson on a long sideline throw.
For the game, the Tigers totaled 327 yards -- far below their season average of 488.8 -- with well over half (200) comingin the first half when the Tigers went up 14-3. The score could have been worse, but another LSU drive was stopped when Mettenberger fumbled a pass attempt -- without being hit -- and defensive tackle Leon Orr recovered at the the Florida 28.
The Tigers finished with a season-low 17 points after coming in averaging 45.5 a game.
LSU took its 7-3 lead after the Gators jumped on the scoreboard first.
Murphy marched the UF offense 60 yards on 14 plays, converting a pair of third downs along the way, before the drive stalled at the Tigers' 27. From there, Florida coach Will Muschamp bypassed a fourth-and-1 for a field-goal attempt. Instead of going with ardin, Muschamp tabbed Velez for the boot and early 3-0 lead.
The Gators got little to nothing going after that.