Kyree Campbell was right: The Gators indeed played “big boy ball” Saturday night.
Florida’s elite defense reared its head, and the offense executed well enough for UF to secure a 24-13 win over Auburn at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
In the week leading up to the game, several Florida players spoke on perceived disrespect in the polls and otherwise. Well, UF addressed that in a big way, moved up three spots in the AP Top 25 Poll to No. 7 and notched a resume-building win for its potential College Football Playoff case.
Now, the Gators get to do it all over again this week. Against a better team. In a hostile environment.
As coach Dan Mullen has said, that’s life in the SEC.
“You know what winning a big-time game like this mean?” he said. “You have to show up tomorrow , and get ready to win an even bigger one tomorrow.”
UF will travel west to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this weekend for another top-10 matchup against No. 5 LSU.
The Gators (6-0, 3-0 SEC) by no means played a perfect game against Auburn. UF turned the ball over four times and struggled once again to run the ball, save for Lamical Perine’s 88-yard touchdown run. But there’s a much larger margin for error when the defense holds a team to 13 points and racks up four turnovers of its own.
Florida’s defense has now given up just one touchdown in 13 quarters since quarterback Feleipe Franks went down. The Gators’ 17 takeaways lead the nation and they’re in the top five for scoring defense, opponent red zone touchdown percentage, sacks and tackles for loss.
But LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, statistically the best passer UF will face all season, leads the No. 1 scoring offense in the FBS. The Tigers (6-0, 3-0 SEC) average 54.6 points per game and Florida’s defense allows just 9.5. Naturally, something will have to give in that regard.
Quarterback Kyle Trask, who briefly exited the game Saturday with a knee injury, did not let on that the LSU game will take on any additional weight.
“That’s going to be the biggest game just because it’s the next game,” he said. “No matter who we are playing, it’s going to be the biggest game for us, we are going to prepare the same way.”
But the coverage around the team, which has now won 10 straight games, says otherwise. The spotlight that was on UF the past two weeks will follow the team to Louisiana as the College GameDay crew will be at the Gators’ game for a second-straight week.
Heading into the season, it was clear this four-game stretch from October to November featuring Auburn, LSU and Georgia — all top-10 teams — would be difficult. And Florida passed its first test of the SEC gauntlet. Test No. 2 and more “big boy ball” awaits them in Louisiana.
“We’re going to turn on that film on Monday and go watch LSU and know we’ve got to head to Death Valley and say, ‘If we want to be there, go do it,’” Mullen said.
Follow Kyle Wood on Twitter @Kkylewood. Contact him at [email protected].