BATON ROUGE (La. – Ed Orgeron emerged from the tunnel behind the north end zone clapping his hands. His team was led onto the field by him as he pointed straight ahead.

At the time of Orgeron’s Saturday morning march, I thought I might be witnessing the LSU coach and Louisiana native’s final pregame entrance at Tiger Stadium.

Wait a minute. Do not dismiss this Cajun just yet.

Orgeron’s tenure was granted a suspension of execution due to LSU’s win against No. 42 (49-42). 17 Florida on Saturday.

“I love our team, I love LSU, and we went to work this week,” Orgeron said. “I know I’m not going to blink. I’m not going to blink until the day I die, and this team isn’t going to blink.”

Max Johnson’s winning touchdown pass on fourth-and-1 to Jaray Jenkins with 3:30 remaining means Orgeron hasn’t coached his last game in a purple polo.

The result isn’t shocking when viewed through the lens of this series history.

The unranked team or the lowest-ranked rival has won 10 of the 20 previous meetings in which they were ranked. This includes five wins in six of the last six meetings.

Orgeron improved to 4-2 against the Gators as LSU’s coach. Last season, LSU (4-3, 2-2 SEC) parlayed a 15-yard penalty on Florida’s Marco Wilson for throwing a shoe into an upset victory in the fog at The Swamp.

LSU SUN FLORIDATigers with injuries eat Gators during wild victory

Although there were no shoe throws in this installment, it was full of drama.

Florida’s (4-3, 2-3), quarterbacks had back-to-back interceptions during the first period. Emory, the Gators’ quarterback, ran a 42-yard Hail Mary touchdown through a stiff breeze to close out the first half. LSU’s Dwight McGlothern returned an interception for a touchdown on the third play of the second half. Florida’s backup quarterback was the one who led four touchdown drives. Florida refused to punt. LSU blocked an additional point

And an embattled coach known more for his skills as a recruiter and a motivator outcoached his counterpart who’s regarded as one of college football’s top strategic minds.

Gators coach Dan Mullen seemed to forget in the first half that Florida possesses one of the nation’s best rushing offenses. Just five of UF’s first 23 plays were rushes by Gators running backs.

Florida’s offense didn’t start humming until Anthony Richardson replaced Jones in the third quarter and led four straight touchdown drives. Richardson showed why Richardson should have received the keys earlier in the season.

Judging by the scores of empty seats inside Tiger Stadium, LSU fans didn’t expect this upset. During the first quarter, the stadium’s videoboard showed two LSU fans wearing brown paper bags on their head. Fans were shouting, “L-S–U!” in the final seconds.

Some had questioned whether LSU displayed enough fire throughout a sluggish first half of the season, but no one could question the Tigers’ heart in this homecoming game.

LSU FOOTBALL RRECORD:Tyrion Price breaks Leonard Fournette’s Florida rushing record with a win in Florida

REPORT CARDWe gave Ed Orgeron an A+ in coaching the LSU football team’s upset of Florida

LSU’s beleaguered offensive line delivered its best performance of the season. The game allowed Tyrion Price to have three scoring runs and record 287 rush yards. The ground game was needed, because LSU’s top offensive weapon, wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, is out for the season after a season-ending ankle injury suffered last week.

LSU’s offense provided critical support for its depleted defense, which was missing six starters because of injuries.

However, the defense was able to intercept four passes, with Damone Clark picking Richardson’s overthrown pass when he was under duress in order to secure victory.

Orgeron isn’t out of the woods – not even close. After their 2019 undefeated national championship season, Orgeron’s Tigers now stand at 9-8.

Four ranked foes remain on LSU’s schedule, and the Tigers remain in danger of suffering their first losing season since 1999. Two back-toback road games against Ole Miss, Alabama and Mississippi are ahead. And one of Orgeron’s biggest problems remains that he’s working for an athletics director, Scott Woodward, who did not hire him.

Considering Woodward’s past hires have included Chris Petersen at Washington, Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M and women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey at LSU, he might be eager to put his stamp on this football program.

Orgeron was able to defeat Florida, and he has a new beginning.

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Orgeron’s Tigers entered their 2017 game against their SEC East rival with a 3-2 record, on the heels of a loss to Troy. Orgeron had already been gaining heat in his first season since he was named full-time coach.

LSU beat Florida 17-16, to kickstart a season ending with a record of 9-4. The Gators’ loss that year started a five-game losing streak, during which coach Jim McElwain was fired.

And after Saturday, Mullen will be catching heat, while Orgeron’s tenure endures.

Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer


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