Breaking down LSU vs. Florida

LSU has not beaten the Florida Gators in consecutive seasons since 1986-87 - coach Nick Saban's team looks to change that. <br><br> The Tigers host Florida in a 2:30 clash Saturday afternoon in Tiger Stadium. The game will be nationally-televised on CBS. <br><br> LSU (5-0, 2-0 in SEC) is ranked No. 6 in both polls while the Gators enter Saturday's game 3-3 and unranked for the first time in over a decade. <br><br> Here are the key matchups and breakdowns for Saturday's contest:

Head to Head



Quarterback vs. Defensive End

Florida QB Chris Leak vs. LSU DT Chad Lavalais

Florida true freshman quarterback Chris Leak is living life dangerously. After pulling a rabbit out of the hat at Kentucky, the 2003 Parade All-American Player of the Year saw how the other half lives throwing a game-clinching interception as Florida lost to Ole Miss 20-17. Let's put it this way, if Ole Miss and Kentucky can get to Leak, LSU senior defensive tackle Chad Lavalais will have a field day.



QB - Chris Leak           CB - Keiwan Ratliff


Wide Receiver vs. Cornerback

LSU WR Michael Clayton vs. Florida CB Keiwan Ratliff

LSU standout receiver Michael Clayton has been rather quiet the last two weeks accounting for just five catches against Georgia and Mississippi State. The road gets no smoother this week as Florida cornerback Keiwan Ratliff, one of the top DBs in the SEC, will line up over Clayton.




The Breakdown


LSU rushing offense vs. Florida rushing defense

Every since Deuce McAllister left Ole Miss, the Rebels ability to run the ball has been somewhere around Mississippi State's chances of winning a game. Last Saturday, Ole Miss ripped the Gators for 223 yards on the ground, including a pair of rushing touchdowns. LSU's ground game has been less than impressive through five games. The Tigers have gained yardage, but it has been by committee. With Shyrone Carey slowed by a sprained MCL and Joseph Addai still mired in the funk he has been in this season, the Tigers will rely on a big push up front to get the ball rolling. Against an inexperienced Gator defensive front, that shouldn't be a problem.

Advantage: LSU


LSU passing offense vs. Florida passing defense

Florida defensive back Keiwan Ratliff has nightmares about Devery Henderson. The eventual recipient of the Bluegrass Miracle caught a pair of third quarter touchdown passes over Ratliff a year ago as LSU routed Florida 36-7. Ratliff, along with senior safeties Gus Scott and Daryl Dixon, the Gators have a veteran secondary. LSU quarterback Matt Mauck must be patient, as he was a year ago, allowing things to develop. Look for Michael Clayton to spring back to life – Skyler Green gets better every game.

Advantage: Push


Florida rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense

Ran Carthon and DeShawn Wynn have provided Florida with a capable one-two punch in the backfield. The Gators are averaging 158 yards per game on the ground – not earth shaking but adequate. Through five games, LSU is rated the fourth best rushing defensive in the nation, surrendering just 58 yards each game. Notice a trend being set here.

Advantage: LSU


Florida passing offense vs. LSU passing defense:

True freshman quarterback Chris Leak has shown he can be effective if given the time to throw the ball. A valiant fourth quarter effort against Kentucky showed he can be accurate, but pressure him and he will throw interceptions – seven already this season. Cue Corey Webster. Plus, after watching how LSU's front seven harassed Georgia's all-SEC quarterback David Greene, Leak had better say his prayers.

Advantage: LSU


LSU special teams vs. Florida special teams:

LSU's place kicking duties are a bit more stable than earlier this season – meaning the Tigers haven't missed an extra point in two games. But punter Donnie Jones has been outstanding (when he gets on the field) and the kick returns have been excellent with Devery Henderson and Shyrone Carey doing a good job. Florida has a solid kicker in Matt Leech and Ratliff is something special on kick returns.

Advantage: Push



While it looks as Florida is the lesser team here, don't be fooled – this is still the Florida Gators. Maybe not your father's Florida Gators, but they still carry some of the mystique of a once-proud Steve Spurrier team, even though they did lose to Ole Miss last week! The Gators' backs are against the wall in this on and Ron Zook is feeling the hammer drop quickly meaning Florida is due for a good game – because Lord knows they haven't played one in quite a while.

Advantage: Florida



While it might be time in the rotation for Florida's good-game weekend, LSU will not let that happen. LSU will run the football through the heart of the gator defense and the Tiger stoppers will pound Leak into the Tiger Stadium sod (one more than one occasion). Look closely for groans and grimaces as LSU looks ready to help another opposing coach pack his bags for the second game in a row. It seems to strange to see LSU favored over Florida, but the Tigers are head and shoulders better than the once mighty crocodiles…. er, Gators.


LSU 31, Florida 14




Player to Watch



TE Ben Troupe

Sr. 6-4, 262

Butler HS, Augusta, Ga.


Why is important to stop him: Senior tight end Ben Troupe had a productive day against Ole Miss grabbing four catches for 63 yards with a touchdown. A sizeable target at 6-4 and 262 pounds, Troupe will probably have another big day serving as a safety valve for freshman quarterback Chris Leak.


Who has to stop him: Troupe likes to run his route then sit down in a zone so look for one of LSU's crew of linebackers to find their way to him. Troupe has good speed for a big guy, which can be neutralized by speedy Tiger backers Adrian Mayes and Eric Alexander.



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