No. 21 Florida Gators (7-2 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. No. 16 LSU Tigers (6-3 SU, 4-5 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday November 19th, 2016. 1:00PM (EST)
Where: Tiger Stadium Baton Rouge, L.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: FLA +14/LSU -14
Over/Under Total: TBA
A long awaited and overdue meeting between the no. 21 Florida Gators and no. 16 LSU Tigers will transpire this Saturday in Baton Rouge inside Tiger Stadium. This game was originally scheduled to take place at the beginning of October but was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. The scheduling of this Florida vs. LSU game may have been the most difficult off the field debacle all season. At one point this meeting seemed improbable following the postponement and there was a high level of controversy to get this meeting rescheduled. Non-conference games had to be cancelled and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was heavily involved with the rescheduling negotiations. So after a drawn out rescheduling process, the Gators and Tigers will finally collide on the field this Saturday in this heavily heated rivalry showdown.
I think the rescheduling drama that unfolded between both schools in the wake of Hurricane Matthew was a strong testament to just how much disdain there is between the two programs. LSU and Florida have been heated rivals for a long time and there meetings have historically featured high profile games with SEC and sometimes National Championship implications. While this year’s game may not be quite as big as some of the prior meetings, rest assured there will be no love lost when these two conference heavyweights collide inside Tiger Stadium early Saturday afternoon.
The Gators actually clinched the SEC East with a 20-7 victory over South Carolina last week meaning they have earned their trip to Atlanta for a shot at the SEC Championship against Alabama. Therefore, this week’s game may be a pretty good indicator towards their chances at upsetting Alabama given than LSU plays a very similar style of football and arguably is the most talented team in SEC West behind Alabama. After all this LSU team gave the Crimson Tide their toughest challenge of the season just two weeks ago in a 10-0 loss that was highlighted by tremendous defensive play on both sides of the football.
This week Florida will get a huge test on the road at LSU as they seek just their 2nd win in Baton Rouge since 2003. The Gators will enter this Saturday’s contest as significantly large 14 point underdogs. One of the main reasons to the big ATS margin is that the Gators are without starting quarterback Luke Del Rio who hurt his throwing shoulder in the 31-10 loss to Arkansas two weeks ago. Backup quarterback Austin Appleby had a great performance against a tough South Carolina defense last week hitting 17 of 21 passing for 201 yards with 2 touchdowns and a pick. It was the type of performance that encouraged Gators fans for their chances this week against an even tougher LSU defense.
While Appleby did answer the challenge last week with an impressive performance, it is worth noting that they were at home and the offense consistently started on the short side of the field which made things a bit easier for Appleby. Even with the successes, the Gators could only compile 20 points against South Carolina as the offense coughed up 4 turnovers on the afternoon.
Those mistakes and short field opportunities will not be as forgiving this Saturday against LSU. Baton Rouge is one of the most difficult places to play and LSU’s defense is among the most talented in the SEC. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if Florida can find ways to score. The Gators defense will also have a tough challenge as well. Despite being very solid against the run (11th in the FBS), they will get their biggest challenge of the season against an LSU rushing attack that is very physical with extremely talented tailbacks in Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice. Both backs are on the verge of 1,000 yard campaigns and have combined for 17 touchdowns. Therefore, Florida’s success will likely ride on the heels of their ability to stop the run this weekend.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: LSU has not shown the scoring ability throw the air to make me feel comfortable with laying 14 points against a tough Florida defense. If the Gators can prevent the big plays from happening, they should keep this one close in a tough defensive game. Take Florida +14
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