LSU will face Florida, their third consecutive Top 10 ranked opponent. Just when it appeared that the Tigers’ defense had found its footing after stumbling during most of the season, Alabama shredded the squad. The Tide scored six touchdowns and a field goal at the end of its first seven possessions.
Florida faced a determined bunch of Volunteers last week. The Gators did not take a double-digit lead until the final minute of the first half. They built a sizable advantage in the second half until Tennessee added two touchdowns in the final five minutes to narrow the margin of Florida’s win.
Florida leads the all-time series over LSU, 33-30-3. When these two programs have met in Gainesville, the Gators hold the advantage, 16-13-3. The four most recent games have been split evenly. They have faced each other annually since 1971.
Florida’s prolific quarterback versus LSU’s beleaguered secondary
Kyle Trask has risen to the level of a credible Heisman candidate with his performances this season. He has completed 230 of 322 passes for 3,243 yards, 38 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. He has connected on no less than 21 passes per game. His completion percentage exceeded 60 percent in seven out of nine contests and was never below 58 percent. He compiled more than 300 yards through the air in seven games and is above 250 over everyone. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes while never tossing more than one interception in every game.
LSU’s passing defense has struggled for most of the season. The unit has allowed an average of 313.1 passing yards and 2.4 passing touchdowns per game. Specifically, when the defense has allowed 300 or more yards through the air, LSU has lost all five times. Also in four of the Tigers’ five defeats, the defense gave up at least three receiving touchdowns.
Despite some embarrassing performances, LSU has experienced some success against a few opposing passing attacks. The Tigers did hold three opponents to under 250 yards through the air. Two of those efforts resulted in victories. When they allowed only one passing touchdown at most, they won on three out of four of those occasions.
Florida’s search for a dominant running game continues
Florida’s rushing attack has been underwhelming so far. Their 126.2 rushing yards average per game is the fourth lowest in the SEC. The Gators have exceeded 200 yards on the ground only once in the team’s nine contests. Additionally, four opponents have limited them to fewer than 100 rushing yards.
Dameon Pierce has experienced the most success running the ball among the Gators. He leads the team with 85 carries for 417 yards and three touchdowns. He accounted for the most yards on the ground for Florida in five games and for second-most in three of them. However, he has never exceeded 70 rushing yards in any contest. He also has averaged just 4.9 yards per carry, just the third-highest among those with more than 10 attempts.
Malik Davis had finished second or third among the Gators in terms of rushing yards in seven games. on the downside, in two games, he did not gain a yard on the ground. Additionally, he has not rushed for 50 yards or more in any contest nor for a touchdown.
Kadarius Toney had the second-highest average per carry (6.4 yards). He led the Gators in rushing yards in the season-opener. However, as a utility player, he ranks just sixth on the team in terms of carries (14) and fifth in rushing yards.
Nay’quan Wright had the most success on the ground in Florida’s sole defeat this season. He had six carries for 31 yards and a touchdown. Nevertheless, he was held to less than 10 rushing yards in four games. Also, 50 yards, on nine carries, has been the highest contribution this season.
Can any of the Gators break the 100-yard mark this Saturday?
LSU is staring at an impending losing season like a deer at an oncoming train. That level of failure would be the first for the program since 1999. The only way to avoid such ignominy would be pulling out an upset at the Swamp then closing out the season with a win at home against Ole Miss. The question is whether the few remaining members from last season’s national championship can rally their teammates.
Florida remains in serious contention for its first berth in the College Football Playoff. Toward that goal, the Gators need more than a victory over LSU. They would benefit from a dominating performance. They may not reach the largest margin of victory in this series (58-3 in 1993) but they should be expected to run up the score.
Prediction: Florida 45, LSU 10