No 12 LSU Tigers (5-0, 2-3 ATS) at No. 14 Florida Gators (4-1, 3-2 ATS), Week 6 College Football, Saturday October 9th, 7:00PM Est. The Swamp at Ben Griffith Stadium Gainesville, F.L.
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Louisiana State University +7.5/UF -7.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
This big time match-up between SEC power was a lot more intriguing before last weekend. The Florida Gators were a top 10 team fighting their way back up the polls and the LSU Tigers were rolling as another unbeaten team in the SEC. However, last weekend the University of Florida was pounded by top ranked Alabama and LSU literally was handed a miracle just to get by Tennessee in the final seconds of the game. The Gators were beaten by the Crimson Tide 31-6 and in all honesty the game was over at half-time. No. 14 Florida now has to regroup and make up for last week’s loss as they host undefeated no. 12 LSU this Saturday night in The Swamp.
The Tigers overcame their biggest game of the season last week with a last second win over Tennessee. LSU had actually been stopped at the goal line with time expiring off the clock, but Tennessee was flagged for too many men on the field. The Tigers capitalized on a Stevan Ridley 1yd touchdown run in the last play of the game to beat the Volunteers 16-14. For the Tigers, it was their 3rd game this season that was decided by less than a touchdown. However, magic has been on the side of Coach Les Miles and they look to continue their unbeaten streak with a huge test in Gainesville.
LSU sports one of the top defenses in the nation that can make things difficult of the Florida offense that has been under the microscope all season. The Tigers defense ranks 6th overall holding opponents to just 246 yards per game and they also rank 5th in scoring defense holding teams to just 12.4 points per game. The strength of their dynamic defense is up front along the defensive line. The Tigers defensive front will make it very difficult for the Florida offense that loves to run the football and those guys up front have also averaged 3.2 sacks per contest this season as well. If LSU can get that type of pressure on Florida QB John Brantley, perhaps they can also force a few picks similar to the way the Alabama defense did a week ago.
Brantley completed just 51.6% passing for 202 yards with 0 touchdowns, and 2 picks last week in his worse performance of the season. Alabama only recorded one sack against the young Florida quarterback, but he was under tremendous pressure all game long. That pressure along with the Gators inability to run the football was the reason they were not able to find the end zone. The passing offense for Florida has not been their strong point this season with the lack of a big team receiver and perhaps Brantley who is still maturing. However, the Gators had been very strong running the football behind tailback Jeffery Demps. Despite being held to just 49 yards against the Alabama defense, Demps is still averaging 6.5 yards per carry with 414 total yards on the season. Expect Florida to get back to their bread and butter this Saturday while they attempt to establish the running game against the Tigers.
On the LSU offensive side of the football, they have definitely not posted any staggering numbers this season. In fact, the offense ranks an embarrassing 91st in the nation with 326 yards per game while just managing 24 points per game as well. However like many of the other powerhouses in the SEC, LSU has a championship caliber defense that keeps the offense in scoring position. Coach Les Miles has consistently run the football to establish ball control and put faith in his defense to win games this season. Tailback Stevan Ridley has been rock solid with 557 yards on the season while averaging 5.7 yards per touch. QB Jordan Jefferson has also added an additional 189 yards on the ground on limited carries.
However, Jefferson has been the catalyst that has held the offense back from being a truly dangerous force this season. The reason is because the passing offense has been a nightmare which is the reason LSU has had to rely on their running game and defense. Jefferson has thrown 6 picks with only 2 touchdowns and completing just 51% passing on the season. Those numbers are just not threatening to defenses and before long Jefferson will have to make plays with his arm. Do not be surprised to see the Gators defense load the box, similar to the way Tennessee did last week, and force Jefferson to make throws. WR Terrance Toliver and Reuban Randle can both make plays in the passing game. Jefferson simply has to regain his confidence and get his receivers the ball. If that does happen, LSU will be extremely tough to beat with their defense playing so well.
Jay’s pick to cover the point spread: I was all over Florida last week and got my arse handed to me because their style just didn’t match-up well against Bama. However, I really expect them to bounce back this week and take care of an over rated LSU group. The Tigers simply can not move the ball and the Gators defense is very good despite their performance last week. Look for LSU to continue to struggle here and for Florida to take out some frustration in front of the home crowd. Bet the Gators at -7.5 and get it soon as I expect the line to move up.