No.4 LSU Tigers (5-0 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. No.10 Florida Gators (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS)
College Football Week 6
Date/Time: Saturday October 6th, 2012. 3:30PM Eastern
Where: Ben Griffin Stadium Gainesville, F.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Louisiana St. -3/Fla +3
Over/Under Total: 44.5
After another less than stellar performance, the LSU Tigers slipped to no. 4 in the polls this past week following a 38-22 victory over Towson. The Tigers were huge 43 point favorites in that game but struggled to put away their inferior FCS opponent. It was the 2nd straight week the Tigers posted rather surprising performance and I do not mean surprising in a good way. LSU barely pulled out a victory over Auburn two weeks ago. At the time, Auburn was just 1-2 with their lone victory coming in overtime to UL-Monroe. Needless to say, the Tigers have not lived up to the National Championship type expectations that were placed over their heads earlier this year. This week we will get to see if the Tigers truly have National Championship potential when LSU travels to the ‘Swamp’ to battle the no. 10 Florida Gators in a huge SEC showdown.
The 10th ranked Gators have been a bit of surprise this season in a good way. After posting a 7-6 record in Will Muschamp’s debut season, the Gators have jumped out to a solid 4-0 start that includes 3 straight SEC wins. Florida has covered the spread in each of their 3 conference wins this season and it appears the Gators could be ready to contend in the SEC once again. Florida posted an impressive 38-0 shutout in their most recent outing against Kentucky and had a bye last week. The extra week of preparation should be a huge plus in a game of this magnitude especially since Florida gets their chance to knock off the Tigers at home in Gainesville.
A lot of people do not like the Gators chances against LSU but I personally believe they match-up well. Florida has one of the better defenses in the SEC allowing just 305 yards and 12.75 points per game. The Gators defense alone should be able to keep this game close especially if they stifle LSU’s inconsistent offense. Therefore if the Gators can make a few plays offensively, they will have every opportunity to win the ball game.
One major area that concerns me for Florida surrounds the run game. Sure Florida sports one of the best rushing attacks in the country averaging 224 yards per game. Running back Mike Gillislee is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and has posted 402 yards on the season. Throw in the running ability of QB Jeff Driskel and the Gators are truly tough to defend against the run. However LSU’s strength on defense is just that, stopping the run. LSU’s defense has held opponents to just 83 yards per game on the ground this year. Not only is LSU strong against the run, but Florida has not proved they can move the football through the air with Driskel under center. I believe Coach Les Miles will keep 6-7 LSU defenders inside the box and dare Driskel to throw the football.
On the flip side, Florida’s defensive approach will likely mirror LSU’s defensive game plan. The Tigers are a ground and pound rushing attack. LSU is big up front on the offensive line and they have talented tailbacks that run hard. That deadly combination has yielded 229 yards per game rushing thus far through 2012. The Tigers have several talented runners that can all make big plays. Kenny Hilliard leads the team with 366 rushing yards while Alfred Blue and Michael Ford have combined for just less than 500 rushing yards. It takes an extremely physical football team to stop LSU’s rushing attack and we will see if Florida’s defense is up to the challenge this Saturday.
If Florida does stop or slow down the Tigers rushing attack, it will put a lot of pressure on LSU QB Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger’s numbers this season are solid completing 65% passing with 6 scores and 2 picks for 1,016 passing yards. However Mettenberger has not proved he is the big game quarterback that will get the Tigers to the next level. Statistically, Mettenberger had his worst performance of the year completing 55% of his passes against Auburn. Not only was that possibly the best defense the Tigers have faced this season but it was a game was decided by less than in a field goal. If Florida is able to keep this game close and shut down the run, can Mettenberger lead the offense with his arm?
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is Florida’s shot to prove they are back as a legitimate threat in the SEC and I believe the folks around Gainesville understand just what this game means to the current state of Florida football. I like the Gators in a low scoring upset. Take Florida +3
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