Another Epic Battle?

LSU and Florida will be on center stage on Saturday night and eyes all across America will be tuned in to what could be another epic battle down on the bayou.

It’s a clash of Titans as the top-ranked Florida Gators head to Death Valley to take on the fourth-ranked LSU Tigers on Saturday night. There are a number of streaks on the line for both squads.

Florida is the defending national champion and brings a 14-game win streak into the contest. LSU brings an incredible 32-game win streak for games played on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.


Gameweek Links:
  • TSD Television: Richard Dickson
  • Q&A: UF Style
  • Q&A: LSU Style
  • Les Miles Wednesday Briefing
  • Confidence Builder
  • TSD Television: Charles Scott
  • Primetime Drama
  • Recruits Visiting for LSU/UF
  • TSD Television: Ciron Black
  • Miles Reflects on UGA
  • A Look Ahead: Florida
  • Somebody’s streak, though, will come to an end.

    In the past three years, the winner of this game has gone on to win the BCS National Championship.

    The intrigue doesn’t need to be sold, but why not throw some gas on the fire? This game represents the highest ranked matchup of teams in Tiger Stadium since 1959.

    The last time these two teams met in Baton Rouge, the Tigers converted five fourth down attempts to escape with victory. The last attempt was on the Florida goal line and a field goal was sufficient to tie the game. Head coach Les Miles, however, went for the win and Jacob Hester delivered.

    Last year, Florida embarrassed LSU in the Swamp with a good old fashioned beat down, 51-21.

    Revenge will be on the mind of every LSU player, and Florida's for that matter, for the way the Gators lost in '07. Despite LSU's undefeated record and two tough road wins, many still question how legitimate this LSU squad is. Without Tebow, how legitimate of a national championship contender is Florida?

    You can speculate all you want. You can suggest that LSU hasn’t won convincingly enough. You can point to their overall rankings on offense and defense.

    However, here are two things to consider. First, LSU finds a way to win, and has yet to fold under the pressure of expectation. More importantly, despite the rankings on offense and defense, LSU’s roster is filled with athletes that will someday be on NFL rosters. 

    Whether they have played up to national expectations as a team is irrelevant. The Tigers are loaded on both sides of the football and undefeated.

    Meanwhile, Florida has one of the best defenses in the country. It has been suggested by some analysts that all eleven starters on the Gator defense will play on Sunday eventually, and I can’t remember ever hearing anything like that. The Gator offense is also considered one of the top units in the nation.

    The game will be televised nationally on CBS, and ESPN’s College GameDay will be on the bayou as well. You can forget about every other game in college football. This is the biggest game of the season so far. Is it possible for the matchup to live up to the hype?

    Tune in Saturday night to find out.

     

    When Florida Has the Ball

    Will Tim Tebow Play? That’s the biggest question heading into this game. If you read enough about concussions, it’s doubtful that Tebow will be ready to take the field Saturday night. Still, LSU is doing the right thing by preparing for Florida’s offense no matter who is taking snaps under center.

    Expect Florida to run the football with Jeffrey Demps, Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody. Each will have an opportunity to run against the LSU defense, and I expect Florida to focus on the tailbacks more than usual.

    Florida will try to get the tailbacks on the edges and in open space to take advantage of their speed. All three tailbacks are averaging over eight yards a carry with Demps and Moody both averaging over 10 yards a pop. Don’t expect those numbers against LSU.

    If Tebow plays, you wouldn’t expect him to run as much, and redshirt sophomore John Brantley is more of a pure pocket passer.

    The Tigers will certainly try and force either quarterback to throw the football, and Florida’s receivers are an unknown entity. Brantley is inexperienced and you’d expect LSU to force him to make plays. If Tebow plays, he is more of a running threat and not as much of a pure passer, but he would be limited with his running due to his concussion issue.


    Perry Riley and the Tiger defense will be tested in a big way

    The Gators like to run a lot of misdirection in their offense. Against Tennessee, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin laid out a blueprint for the entire SEC. Watching tape of the game, Kiffin specifically targeted the open spaces behind the plays. It proved to be extremely effective and it will be interesting to see if John Chavis takes a page out of Kiffin’s book.

    Either way, I expect an aggressive game plan from LSU. Chris Hawkins and Patrick Peterson match up well with Florida’s wide outs. They can blitz off the corner, and probably send linebackers into the empty spaces behind the run action. LSU has to send some sort of pressure, because their defense has not recorded a sack in three straight contests. For LSU to have any chance they have to stop the run, and force either quarterback to beat them through the air.

     

    When LSU Has the Ball

    The question here is will the Tigers adjust to what they do well, or stick with the power game?  It’s interesting to note that as good as LSU was running the football in 2008, they were stuffed by the Gators in Gainesville when the two teams met last year. The LSU running game showed signs of life last week at Georgia, but their best bet is trying to move the chains through the air.

    With improved play from Terrance Toliver, and the possible emergence of Rueben Randle, LSU could have the best combination of wide receivers in the SEC. Brandon LaFell began the 2008 campaign as one of the highest ranked wide outs in the NCAA. Now that Toliver has stepped up his game, who do you double? Besides that, Tolliver and LaFell are both physical receivers and while Randle is a bit wiry, he’s still a tall kid with amazing talent.

    Expect LSU to spend a lot of time in a spread formation with three receivers and Richard Dickson at tight end. Jordan Jefferson is riding a wave of confidence after his heroics in Athens. He is a solid pocket passer but throws the ball extremely well on the move. The Tigers will take a page out of the Gator playbook and use play action to get Jefferson outside the pocket with a run/pass option.

    The option play with Russell Shepard and Trindon Holliday will be used again. This is probably the week that Shepard throws a pass, but don’t expect the Gators to be sleeping on that. When trying to run downhill, Charles Scott will handle the football. On the edges, you’d expect to see more of Keiland Williams, Holliday, or Shepard.

    This will be the best defense that LSU has faced, and conversely, it will be the best offense that the Gators defense has faced.

    How We See It

    LSU has to convert red zone opportunities this week, and I expect them to use some different formations to create matchups down by the goal line. The Tigers lead the SEC in turnover margin and will protect the football with short passes and rely on a spread option running game to move the chains.

    Real estate will be hard to come by for both offenses. The crowd and improving defense will bottle up either Tebow or Brantley. If Brantley is starting, the Tigers will blitz more than any other game so far this year. Florida is the defending national champion and will come into Tiger stadium with a solid game plan, but LSU doesn’t have its 32-0 mark for no reason.

    LSU plays its most complete game of the season on offense, defense, and special teams, but still struggles to move the football against the mighty Gator defense. A late fourth quarter drive by the emerging star, Jefferson, ends in a late field goal attempt by Josh Jasper…..

     

    LSU 17 Florida 14


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