WHO HAS THE EDGE: #17 Florida at #1 LSU

Checking out the 17th-ranked Gators and No. 1 Tigers by position

GAME DAY: No. 17 Florida at No. 1 LSU

ANALYSIS: No. 17 Florida at No. 1 LSU

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Who has the edge?


Quarterback: LSU

It may not be that often that the Tigers have a clear-cut, no-doubt edge at the QB spot like this. But the uncertainty swirling around the Gators at the most important spot on the field makes them awfully vulnerable, especially against a defense that has made life pretty miserable for most QBs. Lee took a step backward last week, but he wasn’t alone as the LSU offense stutter-stepped through a 35-7 victory against Kentucky. Until last week Lee had been solid and the Tigers need his best effort against a salty Florida defense.


Running back: Florida

Chris Rainey

LSU’s loaded backfield is young and emerging as a powerful group in the SEC. The Gators’ tandem of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps has been there for a while. Not only has that duo combined for 749 rushing yards and six TDs (Rainey 74-415, 2 TD, Demps 37-324, 4 TD), they are also Florida’s two most consistent receiving threats and seem to be perfect fits in offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’ offensive scheme. Rainey and Demps will have to come up huge and help Florida play ball-control, work-the-clock offense to keep this game manageable.


Receivers/tight ends: LSU

Through five games, no Gator receiver has established himself and that’s been a blotch on an otherwise nice start to the Will Muschamp era. No problem there with the Tigers, who have two of the SEC’s top pass-catchers in Rueben Randle (19-319, 3 TD) and Odell Beckham Jr. (20-268, 2 TD). Factor in the tantalizing potential of tight end DeAngelo Peterson and the introduction of Russell Shepard two weeks ago and there aren’t many receiving corps that can pose as many threats as LSU’s.


Offensive line: Even

Really hard to find any flaws for either team on this side of the trenches. Both teams are run-oriented and do that very well, although with different styles. Although it was a sack that knocked John Brantley out of action last week, neither the Gators nor Tigers have allowed the QB to get too roughed up. LSU has surrendered only three sacks and Florida five.


Sam Montgomery

Defensive line: LSU

The Tigers regained their edge last week, especially against the run, on the way to throttling Kentucky. The Wildcats managed only 155 total yards and their quarterbacks got sacked five times. Think it’s safe to say LSU’s defense is back on track. Florida’s d-line isn’t a slouch, either. The Gators allow only 90.4 rushing yards a game and have successfully pressured opposing quarterbacks this season. But Florida doesn’t possess the level of depth that LSU employs.


Linebackers: Florida

The Gators have gotten solid play from Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins. Bostic is Florida’s top tackler with 29 stops, two for sacks, and Jenkins has 26. Although the LSU backers have shown some gradual progress, they haven’t delivered a ‘wow’ performance yet this season and that’s looming as a huge problem as the Tigers move toward a portion of the schedule where foes have the capability of grinding out drives on the ground – starting this week.  


Secondary: LSU

Close call here, but the impact the Tiger DBs have on every game give them an advantage. Against an offense likely to rely on wildcat formations and misdirection action, it’s possible Tyrann Mathieu and Brandon Taylor could operate closer to the line of scrimmage more often to contribute to stopping the run. If possible, that even adds to the LSU secondary’s value. While the Gators have been solid in pass defense, giving up only 168.2 yards a game through the air, they only have four interceptions.


Special teams: Florida

Caleb Sturgis

Surprisingly, neither team is dominant across the board on special teams considering the talent pool. Where Florida gets the edge against LSU and just anybody it faces is with kicker Caleb Sturgis. He entered the season as one of the top kickers in the SEC and hasn’t disappointed, booting 12 field goals in 13 tries. He also has eight touchbacks in 36 attempts.


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