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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Gators sported orange jerseys for the first time since 1989 on Saturday to switch it up after the loss to Alabama, but some things never change.

A Florida offense that came into the game as the 84th best group in the country, played up to its ranking.

A special teams unit that had already missed two field goals this season missed another one.

And John Brantley, who entered the contest with the lowest passing efficiency in the Southeastern Conference, struggled at times.

All of it was too much for No. 14 UF (4-2, 2-2 SEC) to overcome in a heartbreaking 33-29 loss inside The Swamp at the hands of No. 12 LSU (6-0, 3-0 SEC) on Saturday. This marks the first time since 2007 that the Gators have endured back-to-back losses.

“I don't know anybody that likes this feeling,” offensive lineman Carl Johnson said. “If you like this feeling then you're a born loser. I don't like it. So I already know I can't do this week in and week out.”

After beginning the game with 65 first-half yards, Florida used an 88-yard kickoff return from redshirt freshman Andre Debose to spark a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter. The spurt was capped off by an 80-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown run by running back Mike Gillislee.

The 14 unanswered points left Florida with a 29-26 advantage with just over three minutes left in the game, its first lead in the second half.

But it wasn’t enough.

The Gators’ defense allowed the Tigers to eat up most of the clock as it looked like it was going to head into overtime. LSU kicker Josh Jasper lined up for a 53-yard field goal that would have tied the game, but coach Les Miles had other plans.

He called a fake as the holder tossed the ball over his shoulder to Jasper for a five-yard gain and a first down. The play kept the drive alive as Terrence Tolliver caught a fade pass in the end zone over cornerback Jeremy Brown. Tolliver’s game-winning catch came with six seconds left in regulation.

"We fight so hard to come back just to lose,” Johnson said. “I'd rather just get blown out and not even have a chance than to be so close, and then for someone to hold you back from the finish line. Hey, you know what, this is SEC ball. I signed up for this."

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Brantley finished the game with 154 passing yards and an interception – the fourth time this season he has failed to surpass 200 yards through the air. However, according to a report Brantley was playing through a serious injury.

ESPN’s Joe Schad reported that the UF quarterback sustained four broken ribs and a broken throwing thumb in the loss to Alabama. A UF spokesman denied the injury and so did coach Urban Meyer.

“They’re not cracked,” he said. “There’s something in the side of the ribs, but I don’t want to say cracked ribs. There’s some damage to his ribs.”

But there was no denying running back Jeff Demps’ sprained foot. The junior didn’t play against LSU despite dressing out.

Still, Florida will have to overcome this rough patch full of injuries, criticism and losses if it wants to achieve its goal of winning the SEC East.

"We still can control our own destiny,” Johnson said. If we win out, we still make it to Atlanta. The question is we have to win out now. We have no room for error. We just blew our last chance."

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