Florida vs LSU. A fun game that has become a rivalry over the last decade or so. The Gators take on their annual cross-division rivals at noon (eastern) on Saturday in Baton Rouge.
The Gators enter the matchup 4-2 and while the Tigers are 3-3 and have lost two straight.
Here are our staff’s predictions for this week’s Florida – LSU game.
Florida and LSU are set for an 11:00 AM kickoff from Tiger Stadium, proving that this matchup doesn’t have the same gusto as years past, but that’s because both teams are underachievers thus far. I know I’m usually giving Dan Mullen a hard time about his team’s preparation and attention to detail in these predictions, but I just don’t see Florida losing or even coming close to losing. LSU will be missing five defensive starters and several more on the offense. The Tigers are 3-3 on the year and appear to playing for a coach that has no chance of making it to next year. If Florida doesn’t romp in the Bayou, it might be time to do some soul searching for Mullen and his staff. Gators, 38-17.
For the second year in a row, Florida plays a depleted LSU coming off a whooping the week prior. This time it’s in Death Valley and the way Florida’s played this season (and last) this is not a gimme win by any stretch. This team came out sluggish in most of its starts this season and absolutely can’t do that on the road. Not to mention, this is quietly one of the wackiest and most random rivalries in the Southeastern Conference. Whether it’s thrown cleats in dense fog, Treon Harris and Brandon Harris dueling in Baton Rouge, a bounced lateral on a fake kick into Josh Jasper’s hands, a goal line stand in Death Valley or a 14-6 Gator win in The Swamp with both teams under 250 yards total offense. No matter how good the teams are, this game is close most of the time. But the Gators do have an advantage when it comes to health and have a favorable matchup in the run game. LSU allows over 150 yards rushing per game and Florida averages over 270. Florida also averages right around the same number of passing yards LSU allows at 230. That Tiger defense is already down several players too. The Gator secondary and pass rush better be ready because LSU can’t run the ball and throws it a lot as a result. Max Johnson averages over 36 attempts a game and has completed 61 percent on the year as the Tigers have a 296 yards-per-game average. But he’ll be without WR Kayshon Boutte. It’s not easy to say “Dan Mullen won’t make the same mistake twice” but I see him taking this game seriously. That doesn’t mean the game will be without a few heart attacks for Gator fans. Florida, 30-20.
Death Valley is no joke when it comes to hostile environments in college football. The Gators struggled in a road test against Kentucky after the Wildcat faithful forced Florida to record 15 penalties for 115 yards. Eight of those flags were tossed because false starts were committed by the offensive line who couldn’t hear the snap count from Emory Jones. Although the kickoff takes place at 11 a.m. local time, LSU fans will eventually wake up to pack Death Valley and cause a ruckus to affect the hot Florida offense, who just recorded 42 points over Vanderbilt. The Tigers have been shaky this season but don’t count them out before the first punch is thrown. I’ll take the under this game and predict that Florida takes it in an overtime battle. Florida, 26-20.
Florida vs LSU. Always expect the unexpected. Hurricane delays? Absolutely. A pre-game dust-up where a star player ruled out miraculously is able to suit-up and play? Why not! A frustrated player helps make a play, then throws a shoe which results in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty breathing new life into an offense that had just been stopped? Naw! Oh, yeah. So, fast-forward to the present where an LSU program with Ed Orgeron is found clinging to life as the Tigers head coach. Five defensive starters down over the past few weeks. Kentucky exploited that to the tune of 330 rushing yards and quarterback WIll Levis actually looked like a legitimate SEC quarterback. Max Johnson, who secured SEC Player of the Week honors vs UF a year ago was sacked four times by the ‘Cats defense and he lost star receiver Kayshon Boutte. And just for kicks, let’s throw in an 11am kickoff. Meanwhile, Florida has their own issues- lack of discipline, they haven’t played 60 minutes of football in any game and it’s mid-October, and Mullen is still trying to develop a passing game for Emory Jones in the red zone. And the Gators are a bit banged up too. These scales tip in Florida’s favor. If LSU rally’s behind Coach O and somehow finds a way to win this game, Dan Mullen and his staff will catch two weeks of pure hell from the Gator Nation. Florida 31, LSU 20.
Florida and LSU will kickoff from Death Valley at 12 PM (EST) and will be broadcast live on ESPN. What do you think the final score will be?