by Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports
The box score tells one story.
LSU lost to Florida on Saturday because of an inability to move the chains on third down. The Tigers converted 1-of-13 third down tries, hitting on a 20-yard gain on a 3rd-and-18 play in the fourth quarter for its lone conversion.
LSU lost because Zach Mettenberger, its first-year starting quarterback, converted 11-of-25 attempts for 158 yards. Mettenberger was intercepted once, giving him two interceptions without a single touchdown in LSU's first two SEC games.
LSU lost because Florida's front seven chewed up its injury-ravaged offensive line. Left tackle Chris Faulk suffered a season-ending knee injury in early September. Right guard Josh Williford suffered an apparent head injury in the first half of Saturday's loss.
LSU lost because the Gators' own offensive line manhandled LSU's vaunted defensive line, helping Mike Gillislee move into the Heisman conversation with a 146-yard, 2-touchdown performance.
Another reason why LSU lost to Florida won't be found in the box score, however. The reason? According to several LSU players, it was too hot.
Yes. It was too hot.
Glenn Guilbeau, who covers LSU for USA TODAY Sports Media Group, puts it best: "LSU players complaining of the heat is sort of like a musher saying he lost the Iditarod because it was too cold."
But heat played a crucial factor, said linebacker Kevin Minter.
"It is Florida," said Minter, who set new school record with 17 solo tackles. "The humidity is ridiculous." Minter went to the locker room for intravenous fluids during the third quarter; Florida scored its first touchdown while Minter received treatment.
According to Weather.com, the high in Gainesville on Saturday was 87 degrees. The humidity at kickoff was 57 percent, rising up to 71 percent in the second half.
In comparison, the temperature in Baton Rouge on the previous Thursday reached 84 degrees in the late afternoon, with humidity at 51 percent.
Still... LSU players blaming heat for an SEC road loss? LSU players, who spend August two-a-days in the blistering heat and humidity of Baton Rouge?
"Our stamina couldn't hold up," said defensive end Sam Montgomery.
"You always think what could I have done better? Maybe I could've drank more water during the week," said Minter.
But, Minter added, "The speed of Florida is ridiculous." Maybe it was the speed, not the heat?
A public service: It'll be 86 degrees in Baton Rouge on Saturday, when the Tigers host South Carolina, with humidity at 67 percent. Man, that's Gainesville weather. How will the Tigers cope?