BATON ROUGE, La. — Experience at quarterback wasn’t the only advantage top-ranked LSU held over reeling Florida.
Spencer Ware rushed for 109 yards and two scores, each of LSU’s senior quarterbacks passed for touchdowns, and the Tigers comfortably defeated 17th-ranked Florida 41-11 on Saturday.
Jarrett Lee gave the Tigers (6-0, 3-0 SEC) the lead for good on their second offensive play, hitting Rueben Randle deep over the middle for a 46-yard touchdown. Jordan Jefferson used a jump pass to Mitch Joseph for another score.
LSU’s fast, fierce defense was too much for Florida (4-2, 2-2), which started freshman Jacoby Brissett at quarterback because of injuries to senior John Brantley and freshman Jeff Driskel.
Brissett was intercepted twice on deep throws, once each by safety Brandon Taylor and star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
LSU led 17-0 after its first three possessions and was never threatened in what became the sixth double-digit victory in as many games for the Tigers, who have trailed for only 6:33 all season. The Tigers more than doubled the Gators in total yards, 453-213. LSU had 238 yards rushing alone.
Alfred Blue added 70 yards on 14 carries and a late 2-yard TD run to cap the scoring for LSU.
After a week of deception by Florida head coach Will Muschamp, who said Driskel was his likely starter in place of Brantley, the coach instead went with Brissett, who became the first freshman quarterback in Florida history to take his first snap as a starter.
Brissett was able to buy time with his scrambling ability and complete intermittent passes, but struggled to sustain drives. Taylor’s interception came on Brissett’s seventh career pass.
Brissett finally got Florida in the end zone on a 65-yard connection to Andre Debose, who Mathieu appeared to let run free after shoving him out of bounds and apparently thinking he was out of the play.
Mathieu didn’t let it happen again, stepping in front of Brissett’s next deep pass for his second interception of the season. That was only the latest defensive highlight for the LSU star, who also has forced four fumbles, and has returned two of his three fumble recoveries for touchdowns this season.
Brissett finished 8 of 14 for 94 yards and the lone score. Driskel, who injured his ankle in relief of Brantley during the Gators’ 38-10 loss to Alabama a week earlier, did not play at all. Instead, Muschamp tried rotating in receiver Trey Burton and Chris Rainey as single-wing quarterbacks.
None of it amounted to much against an LSU defense that entered the game ranked ninth nationally in total defense and scoring defense, despite playing three ranked teams away from Tiger Stadium — including prolific Oregon in Dallas — in its first five games.
LSU found the end zone on its first two possessions. Following up the quick strike to Randle with a methodical eight-play drive that included seven runs and covered 57 with the help of an offside penalty. Ware capped it with a 2-yard TD run.
LSU appeared to have scored its third TD when punter Brad Wing covered 52 yards on a fake late in the first quarter, but raised his arms moments before crossing the goal line. That drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which took the score off the board. LSU retained possession, but had to settle for Drew Alleman’s 35-yard field goal.
Wing still got credit for a 44-yard run, which made him the second leading rusher of the second half behind Ware’s 63.
Ware scored his second touchdown on an 8-yard run in the second quarter, helping LSU take a 24-3 halftime lead.