Burrow’s 3 TDs lift No. 5 LSU over No. 7 Florida, 42-28.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The first thing Joe Burrow did after launching the longest — and most decisive — of his three touchdown passes against Florida was embrace a pair of offensive linemen who’d kept pass rushers at bay all night.
Then the Tigers quarterback skipped toward the jubilant LSU bench area, fist-pumping all the way.
Burrow passed for 293 yards and led fifth-ranked LSU to three unanswered touchdowns after the Tigers had fallen behind early in the second half to emerge with a 42-28 victory over No. 7 Florida on Saturday night.
Facing a Florida defense that came in leading the nation in interceptions and leading the Southeastern Conference in sacks, the Tigers (6-0, 2-0 SEC) totaled 511 yards without giving up a sack or committing a turnover.
“We knew that last year they got after us up front. Our offensive line took that personally,” Burrow said, referring to a 27-19 loss to the Gators in Gainesville, Florida. “I was just so proud of those guys. There was no pressure the entire night.”
LSU coach Ed Orgeron declared that holding Florida’s defense without a sack was “the biggest stat of the night,” noting how Florida’s defensive ends had “destroyed” opposing offensive lines in previous games.
“I don’t think we were able to get pressure on him, and when we did, he did a god job of scrambling,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said.
Ja’Marr Chase had 127 yards receiving and the last of his two touchdowns was a 54-yarder to give LSU a two-score lead with 5:43 left. Justin Jefferson caught 10 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Burrow, meanwhile, went 21 of 24, meaning he had the same number of touchdown tosses and incomplete passes.
“Once we protect the quarterback, I feel confident in us moving the football,” Orgeron said.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 134 yards and two scores.
“Their ability to run the ball was a big difference,” Mullen said.
The Tigers still have yet to score fewer than 42 points in a game this season.
Kyle Trask was 23-of-39 passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns for Florida (6-1, 3-1), but was done in by freshman Derek Stingley Jr.’s interception in the LSU end zone in the fourth quarter, when the Gators were trying to tie the game.
“We did a pretty good job executing all night,” Mullen said. “But the margin for error in big games is really small.”
Soon after, Burrow spotted Chase running free down the right sideline, and a Tiger Stadium crowd about 100,000 strong was in virtual delirium.
Florida led 28-21 after opening the second half with an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended with Van Jefferson’s second touchdown catch of the game.
But LSU tied it less than four minutes later on Edwards-Helaire’s 5-yard run. Tyrion Davis-Price put the Tigers back in front with a 33-yard run on LSU’s next possession.
The first half was played to a 21-all tie with Florida using methodical drives to answer each of the first three touchdowns scored by LSU’s high-octane attack.
LSU’s first touchdown drive, capped by a 9-yard pass to Chase, took two plays and 32 seconds, starting with Edwards-Helaire’s 57-yard run. The Gators responded with a 12-play drive that took more than six minutes, ending with Trask’s 5-yard pass to Trevon Grimes.
After Justin Jefferson’s 7-yard TD catch capped a five-play drive that covered 82 yards in just 2:09, Florida answered with a 13-play drive, ending with Emory Jones’ fourth-and-goal pass under pressure to Lamical Perine, who deftly corralled the ball after it was tipped by linebacker Patrick Queen.
LSU took the lead just 1:29 later on Edwards-Helaire’s 39-yard run, and Florida tied it again with an 11-play drive that finished with Van Jefferson’s first touchdown on a 6-yard pass from Trask.
The Gators wound up possessing the ball for 38:19, while LSU had the ball for 21:41. But Orgeron doesn’t sound inclined to slow his offense’s pace to help his defense rest between possessions.
“We feel we can score, we feel we’ve got athletes in space and we’re not going to stop,” Orgeron said.
Florida: Trask did not appear bothered by the knee injury he played through last week, and his composure was evident in his first SEC road start at famously loud Tiger Stadium. The offense rarely failed to get plays off cleanly. Trask mostly threw accurately and even scrambled when needed.
“There’s two ways you can go; You can either lose and start pointing fingers or you can lose and start coming together,” Trask said. “We have a great group of guys and at the end of the day, it’s just going to make this team better.”
LSU: While the offense remained prolific against the best defense it’s faced this season, the Tigers’ defense had its share of struggles for the third time against a major conference opponent. An increase in stunts and blitzes in the second half produced more pressure on Trask, who was sacked once each by Marcel Brooks and K’Lavon Chaisson. That helped the Tigers pull away late and hold on.
LSU should move into the top four after No. 3 Georgia lost to South Carolina. Florida should not drop far after a competitive road showing against a top-five team.
Florida: Visits South Carolina.
LSU: Visits Mississippi State.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25