After a while, everything was going right for LSU in Death Valley — big Brandon Harris completions, calls that could have awarded possession to Florida, non-calls working out for the Tigers — and Florida trailed by two touchdowns twice in the second quarter, and heading into halftime.
When it was over, LSU had a win, thanks to some of the same old Les Miles magic.
But between the lowest low and the final whistle, Florida fought for its 35-28 defeat against the Tigers and before their ravenous fans. The Gators may be coming out of this game no longer unbeaten, but they can boast about being unbroken.
That's true despite Leonard Fournette running for 180 yards and two touchdowns, despite Brandon Harris lighting up the Gators' vaunted secondary for 202 yards and two scores of his own. Neither player scored in the second half, as Florida forced punts on every possession other than one on which the Gators got burned by a fake field goal.
That play — a mirror image of the one Miles used to beat Florida in Gainesville five years and two Florida coaches ago — staked LSU to its final margin of victory.
And after it, Treon Harris couldn't do much to rally Florida back, completing just two of his final 12 throws; one of those completions was a 41-yard prayer that Antonio Callaway hauled in, and the other was a checkdown Kelvin Taylor probably should have dropped.
Before then? Harris and Callaway were close to brilliant. Harris did finish with 271 yards and two touchdowns, and Callaway continued a sensational freshman season with three catches for 100 yards — one a phenomenal combination of concentration and balance — and a 72-yard touchdown on a punt return. Jake McGee had two touchdown catches, too, and Brandon Powell was gained over 10 yards a catch, and Demarcus Robinson showed up with a big 38-yard catch-and-run sprung by Callaway late.
And Florida's defense was decent, on balance, after being set ablaze in the first half. Fournette's 180 yards came on 31 carries, and his longest run covered "just" 25 yards; if not for a couple of big plays to Malachi Dupre on coverage busts, it would have been the longest LSU play of the night.
A game that could have gotten out of hand at a half-dozen junctures was never out of grasp for the Gators, who showed enough offense to get back to level against the best defense they've seen this year.
It wasn't enough to beat LSU, not with the magic that Miles can conjure in Death Valley seemingly a spell that Florida cannot break.
But Florida may not see a team as good — and certainly won't be in an environment as hostile — for the rest of 2015.
Cry for the loss of an unbeaten season no one believed was even plausible as recently as a month ago. Be heartened by the Gators' pride and fight, though.
Those things might be here to stay.