WHEN: Saturday, November 19, Noon CT
WHERE: Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, La.)
TV/RADIO: SEC Network/Tiger Sports Radio Network
SERIES: Florida leads 31-28-3
LAST MEETING: LSU won 35-28 in 2015.
LINE: LSU -13.5
Coming off the Alabama loss, LSU made a strong statement against Arkansas, where the team rolled up 390 yards rushing en route to a 38-10 win on the road, breaking the talk of Alabama hangovers and the Tigers' problems on the road in Fayetteville. Derrius Guice rushed for 252 yards in the win including a 96-yard touchdown run while Leonard Fournette nearly notched 100 yards on the game. The Tigers now have two 800-yard backs and did a fantastic job of managing the carries, switching both out mid-series to give each other a breather.
Defensively, outside of a bust by Tre'Davious White in coverage on a 3rd and 22 leading to an Arkansas touchdown, the defense kept their end of the bargain as usual. The team had some struggles against the Razorbacks screen game a couple times, but Ed Orgeron was clear the team would clean that up. Lewis Neal came out of the game as he was nicked up, but is expected back along with Tashawn Bower, who was also hurt.
The Gators are coming off a thumping of South Carolina 20-7 to bounce back from an embarrassing loss to Arkansas the week prior. The Gators forced two turnovers, but also had three of their own as the defense played tough against the Gamecocks. The Gators rushed for 171 yards and threw for 201 yards. That's pretty good balance for a team that needs that this week against an LSU team that will try to force the Gators to beat them through the air. The pro-style attack that the Gators will bring to LSU assure this game will be an old-fashioned brawl.
Defensively, their defensive line is the strength of this team along with their two cornerbacks, Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson, who are ball hawks on the back end for the team. If LSU can protect and take care of Danny Etling, LSU should be able to find the balance the team desires with a strong running game as well. Jordan Sherit and CeCe Jefferson will provide LSU with plenty to handle at defensive end and the tackles will have to be ready to go against their quickness.
Matchup to Watch
Tre'Davious White vs. Antonio Callaway: LSU Fans should be very familiar with as Callaway torched LSU for 100 yards receiving and a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown last year. This year, with White matched up on Callaway, LSU has to believe the sophomore won't be able to match the performance he had against the Tigers last year. LSU's punt coverage team has also been stellar this season. The Tigers can't let the speedster Callaway get into the open field or it'll be bad news for LSU. The Tigers have to contain him if the team is going to make Florida one-dimensional on offense.
Keys to the Game
Run the ball. LSU is coming off another great performance in the ground game from both Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette. The Tigers have to come out early and run the ball on the Gators, who are missing key pieces on defense. The Florida defensive line is tough to handle though and LSU will have to be solid in their blocking and get to the second level to create holes for Fournette and Guice.
Pressure Appleby. It's tough enough coming into Tiger Stadium as an opposing quarterback, but Austin Appleby has had an up-and-down season as Luke Del Rio and him have battled for the job and Del Rio is injured for this game. Appleby has some athleticism to bring to the table as a quarterback, but if LSU can get pressure on him like the team did against Arkansas, it's going to be even tougher sledding than it already figures to be for the Gators offense.
What to Watch For
When LSU is on Offense: More balance than last week. Against Arkansas, LSU knew right off the bat the team was going to be able to control the line of scrimmage by pounding the football. LSU might have to pass a little bit more to keep the Florida defense from stacking the box. The Gators are one of the best teams defending the run so I expect LSU to back the Gators off with a little more passing calls this week.
When LSU is on Defense: Linebackers. Watch the LSU linebackers and how aggressive Dave Aranda is this week in using them. The Tigers have two studs in the middle with Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley that drew praise from Jim McElwain this week. The Gators aren't the most creative team in the world with their run schemes, as seen in the Arkansas game, and LSU should expect plenty of work for Riley and Beckwith in the middle. It'll be on them to be sure tacklers and fill the holes against this rushing attack.
When Florida is on Offense: Multiple formations. The Gators are more pro-style than most, but you'll see them go 4-wide, Pistol, two tight ends and use a traditional fullback too. It's like watching LSU's offense in a way. The Gators have a productive back in Jordan Scarlett that can carry the load, but Appleby has to make the throws the Gators need if they're going to have a chance to win against LSU.
When Florida is on Defense: Secondary. Florida's secondary is replacing one of their seniors in Marcus Maye at safety and LSU might look to take some shots at Marcell Harris and Nick Washington, who are filling in on the backend. On the outside, Tabor and Wilson are about as good as you can get in terms of cornerbacks and Etling will have to be accurate with the football to allow LSU's receivers to make plays while keeping it away from the Gators' defensive backs.
Tiger Blitz Predictions
Billy: I really have a tough time seeing this Florida offense scoring a touchdown on the LSU defense. Maybe I'm a bit too high on the Tigers and not crediting Florida's playmakers enough. The Gators found ways to move the ball against South Carolina, but not at all consistently enough and turned the ball over three times. I expect more of the same in Tiger Stadium with a strong performance from Leonard Fournette. LSU 24, Florida 6.
Randy: At long last, LSU and Florida get together for football and not off-the-field drama and sniping and that’s a beautiful thing. It may have more appeal to the Tigers and their fans right now than the wounded Gators, though. Down somewhere between 5-7 starters, Florida comes in with the higher aspirations to play for – a win punches the Gators’ ticket to the SEC Championship Game. That motivation isn’t about to be anywhere close to enough because the Tigers are playing at a different level than anybody else in the SEC except Alabama. LSU’s powerful running game and its ex-Purdue quarterback getting the upper hand, plus that suffocating defense, will be too much for the Gators. LSU 31, Florida 13
Murf: While Florida has a chance to play a ball control-type offense meshed with a physical defensive front, injuries have compromised its ability to do just that. If LSU plays LSU ball -- creative rushing attack and heavy play-action shot passes -- it can wear Florida down enough to cruise comfortably. LSU 31, Florida 14