No. 17 Florida (4-1, 2-1) at No. 1 LSU (5-0, 2-0)
2:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium
WDGL-FM 98.1; XM 91; Sirius 91/CBS
Series record: The Gators lead 30-24-3 and won the last meeting in Baton Rouge, 13-3 in a battle of top-four teams. LSU nabbed a 33-29 triumph last season at The Swamp. The teams have split the last eight games. Tigers coach Les Miles is 3-3 against Florida.
In the spotlight: WR Rueben Randle (6-4, 208, Jr.)
Season stats: 19 catches for 319 yards, 3 TD
An off-field misstep cost Randle a start last week and may have kept the LSU coaches from dialing up as many plays as normal to the Tigers’ biggest downfield home-run threat. Not that LSU needed much of a deep ball presence against Kentucky in a 35-7 win. That changes drastically this week against a Florida defense that has the talent to stay on the field with the Tigers and intent of taking away their bread-and-butter running attack. LSU needs to throw the ball on early downs to force some hesitation from the pass rush, and Randle and Jarrett Lee have a nice chemistry established on play-action looks, so he should get some opportunities. After grabbing just one pass for 37 yards last week against the Wildcats, Randle figures to be motivated for a huge breakout this week and that’s exactly the boost LSU needs.
Schedule (5-0, 2-0)
Sept. 3 LSU 40, #3 Oregon 27
Sept. 10 LSU 49, Northwestern State 3
Sept. 15 LSU 19, #25 Mississippi State 6
Sept. 24 LSU 47, at #16 West Virginia 21
Oct. 1 LSU 35, Kentucky 7
Oct. 8 #17 Florida, 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 15 at Tennessee, 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 22 Auburn, TBA
Nov. 5 at Alabama
Nov. 12 Western Kentucky
Nov. 19 at Ole Miss
Nov. 25 Arkansas
Dec. 3 SEC Championship Game
In the spotlight: QB Jacoby Brissett (6-3, 239, Fr.)
Season stats: None. His last snap in a live-game situation came last season at Dwyer High in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
One way or another, Brissett is likely to get his first taste of college football Saturday against LSU. The No. 9-ranked quarterback by Scout.com from the class of 2011, Brissett was No. 3 on the depth chart before last week’s loss to Alabama. But starter John Brantley was knocked out with a high ankle sprain and likely won’t play against the Tigers, and fellow freshman Jeff Driskel also dinged an ankle against the Crimson Tide. Driskel may still start, but Brissett will likely get snaps against the No. 1-ranked team in the country in front of an amped-up crowd and vs. a Tigers defense as ferocious as any in the country. There’s no doubt Brissett is a proven winner – he played key roles for Dwyer teams that on the 2009 football state championship and 2011 basketball state title. If that translates into confidence as soon as he steps on the field against LSU, the Gators’ offense could piece together enough energy to make this game interesting.
QB John Brantley (ankle) doubtful, QB Jeff Driskel (ankle) questionable
Schedule (4-1, 2-1)
Sept. 3 Florida 41, Florida Atlantic 3
Sept. 10 Florida 39, UAB 0
Sept. 17 Florida 33, Tennessee 23
Sept. 24 Florida 48, Kentucky 10
Oct. 1 #3 Alabama 38, Florida 10
Oct. 8 at #LSU, 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 15 at Auburn, TBA
Oct. 29 vs. Georgia in Jacksonville, 2:30 p.m. (CBS)
Nov. 5 Vanderbilt, TBA
Nov. 12 at South Carolina, TBA
Nov. 19Furman, TBA
Nov. 26 Florida State, TBA
Dec. 3 SEC Championship Game
Three keys to the game
1. Crank it up: LSU meandered through the Kentucky game last week without a lot of energy – on the field or in the stands – and still managed to prevail rather easily and convincingly. That won’t work this week against a Florida team with equal talent and a sense of urgency after losing to Alabama last week. The Tigers need to take the field with fire and be eager to take the fight to the Gators.
2. No time to get comfortable: Florida’s quarterback will be either a true freshman making his first start, a true freshman taking his first college snaps or a redshirt freshman who hasn’t been good enough to beat out either of his younger teammates. LSU’s defense needs to make sure whoever is running the Florida offense never gets a chance to settle into a rhythm and find a comfort zone. Forcing whoever the QB is into rushed decisions could make for a long day for the Gators.
3. Mix it up and catch ’em off guard: As stout as Florida’s rush defense has been most of the season, LSU can’t fool around with a redundant ground game in an effort to establish the run. The Tigers offensive coaches need to dial up pass plays early in the game, early in drives and on early downs to get the talented but youthful Gators defense chasing its tail. That could mean getting Russell Shepard involved, it could mean a gadget or two early or it could be sticking to a similar script – finding Rueben Randle downfield in a one-on-one situation or slipping a quick pass to Odell Beckham Jr. and letting him turn something small into a big play. Whatever it takes to avoid being predictable.
For the first time at home this season, the Tigers have a ton of incentive with one of their biggest rivals in Baton Rouge and a chance to make a national television statement on a day when other top-tier teams will share center stage. LSU’s track record under Les Miles has been to play big in the biggest games, and that’s already played out twice this season against Oregon and West Virginia. Now it’s time to show the home folks just how good this team is and has a chance to be against a fellow SEC powerhouse. The Tigers defense will devour whichever untested quarterback(s) Florida trots out and the offense will rediscover its groove after a rugged first half and chug away in the second half with a handful of big plays. LSU 24, Florida 13