Florida vs. Louisiana: The luck of the Gators

Al Messerschmidt

Luck's got nothing to do with deserving a win. But luck has nothing to do with enjoying it, either.

Florida is living the charmed life to top all charmed football lives in 2012. There is nothing wrong with that — or with enjoying it.

Two Fridays ago, I wrote this:

You only get so many games as a Florida student. The prices go up from absolute steal to prohibitively expensive when you aren't also paying UF to educate you. It doesn't feel the same to come back as an alumni, and not be able to roll out of bed, shower (or don't, really), and walk to the game. You can power through hangovers better now than you'll ever be able to for the rest of your adult life. You never, ever know when Trey Burton will score six touchdowns, or when Jeff Driskel will look like an all-timer.

I should have probably factored in "You never, ever know when your backup quarterback, inserted after an injury, will overcome two drives of horrific play to lead a game-tying drive, followed by your team's incredible special teams coming through at the best possible moment to win a game." Don't know why I didn't see that coming.

Last Sunday morning, I wrote a post subtitled "The anatomy of an escape" while explaining how Florida beat Missouri. I definitely should have foreseen the Gators putting Houdini to shame by giving up 17 straight points to a Louisiana team that earned the privilege of never getting called Louisiana-Lafayette again, then scoring 14 points in the final 1:42 of a game that seemed destined to be one of the most stunning upsets in college football history and turning it into the greatest escape Florida has pulled. Mea culpa.

One thing you're going to hear a lot this week is that Florida is doing what it does and winning games with luck and nothing else, and that's not entirely true or fair. Florida's defense has to hold the Ragin' Cajuns to 13 points despite three drives into the red zone for things to happen the way they did, and has to hold twice in the final five minutes to set up Loucheiz Purifoy to do that thing Loucheiz Purifoy always does.

Jeff Driskel has to run around and conjure a field goal drive from nothing early in the second half to make Florida's lead big enough to not get buried. Jordan Reed has to finally, finally bring in big catches for a Florida offense that avoids them like lepers, and Jacoby Brissett has to roll away from pressure and hit Quinton Dunbar, who has to make a tremendous sliding catch, to give Florida a chance to go to overtime.

But there was a ton of luck involved, too: Brissett threw a sure pick that got bobbled and dropped, Louisiana decided not to play for a field goal at the end of the game, the Cajuns didn't go for it on a fourth down play that could have been an absolute backbreaker, and the blocked punt fluttered right to Jelani Jenkins. And this was all to beat Louisiana.

The problem I have with focusing on the luck is that no one remembers how lucky a win was for very long after it happens — you remember the luck that went the other way, sure, but not the luck that made great moments happen. The Swamp erupting as a blocked punt for a touchdown, the second of the day, swung the game to the Gators, is a moment so great and glorious it hardly seemed real.

But it happened. And I was lucky enough to be there. I'll remember that for a lot longer and more fondly than I remember how lucky Florida was to make it happen.

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