No. 5 LSU at No. 22 Florida: The Storylines

7
1323
Florida running back Lamical Perine picks up yards against LSU at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in last year's game. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Today

Who: No. 5 LSU (5-0, 2-0 SEC) vs. No. 22 Florida (4-1, 2-1)

When: 3:30 p.m.

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: CBS

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Vegas Line: Tigers by 2

Series record: Florida leads 32-29-3.

Last 10 years: The Gators have lost six of the last 10 games. Last four in series decided by seven points or less. … LSU has won six of the last eight meetings, including two straight in Gainesville.

Last time they met: In a game that was played in Gainesville because the previous year’s game had been moved because of a hurricane, LSU took advantage of a missed Eddy Pineiro extra point to pull off a 17-16 win.

Fun fact: Florida scored 51 points to start the last decade against LSU. In the nine games since then, Florida has been held under 17 points six times. The Gators have dropped three consecutive conference games at The Swamp and haven’t lost four straight in league play at home since a six-game slide spanning seven years and World War II (1942-49).

What’s at stake?

LSU puts its undefeated record on the line against Florida, which is coming off consecutive road wins against Tennessee and Mississippi State.

Key matchup

Florida’s wide receivers vs. LSU’s cornerbacks Kristian Fulton and Greedy Williams:

With the Tigers’ propensity to play a lot of man-to-man coverage with their corners, the UF wide receivers are going to have opportunities to make plays. The problem is Fulton and Williams usually don’t give up a lot of plays, they make them. A week ago, the Florida offense avoided a strong MSU defensive front with wide receiver screens and a lot of quick passes. It’s almost a certainty that Fulton and Williams are going to sit on those today. When they do, the UF receivers have to find a way to beat the coverage and make plays in the passing game. The result of this matchup could go a long way toward ending (or extending) the debate as to which school is the real DBU.

The Gators found ways to move the ball against Mississippi State’s vaunted front, with Feleipe Franks making quick throws to the perimeter to negate the Bulldogs’ pass rush. They will need to do something similar against the Tigers, who have 13 sacks in five games.

Players to watch

LSU: Nick Brossette ranks fourth in the league in rushing, averaging 96.2 yards a game. He has four touchdowns the last two games, and the Tigers are 14-0 under coach Ed Orgeron when they have a 100-yard rusher.

Florida: Defensive end Jachai Polite is one of seven FBS players with at least three forced fumbles. He had two sacks last week at Mississippi State and has proven to be a tough matchup for opposing offensive linemen.

Franks almost a Tiger

Quarterback Feleipe Franks was a longtime LSU commitment during the recruiting process, but flipped to Florida shortly before signing day. He said earlier this week that he hasn’t really thought much about what would have been if he had stuck with the Tigers. His focus remains on making progress from game to game under the tutelage of Dan Mullen and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson. So far, so good. But LSU’s fast, aggressive defense, led by one of the best secondaries in the SEC, will be his toughest step yet. Franks’ teammates say he’s ready to take that next step. “He’s growing and it’s finally showing,” junior wide receiver Josh Hammond said. “The work he’s put in all spring, all summer, all camp is coming alive and I’m just really excited for him. He’s excited as well, just to finally see the work that he has put in finally get some results out of it.”

Mullen vs. Aranda

There should be an interesting chess match going on today between Mullen and LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who is considered one of the top coaches in his profession. Mullen showed his strength in putting together a successful game plan in the win at Mississippi State last week. Aranda has been doing the same in the Tigers’ 5-0 start. The two are certainly familiar with each other’s work. The two squared off just last season, and Mullen came away with an emphatic win. Mullen’s Mississippi State team thrashed LSU 37-7, and his offense rolled up 465 yards against Aranda’s defense. It will be interesting to see how Mullen attacks the LSU defense today, and what kind of adjustments Aranda has made from a year ago.

Let’s get physical

Florida’s new-found physicality will be tested today because the Tigers are big and strong — and potentially dominant — on both lines of scrimmage. The Gators know the Tigers will try to pound the ball in the running game. UF’s early response could dictate the tempo for the rest of the game. The Tigers will be looking to get a 100-yard game from tailback Nick Brossette. When LSU has a running back go over 100 yards under Ed Orgeron, the Tigers are 14-0. As for the Florida offense, Mullen will try to keep Franks out of obvious passing situations to slow down the LSU pass rush and minimize the possibility of big, negative plays.

Ring of Honor

Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion finished his college career with 9,285 yards and 88 touchdowns passing to go along with 2,947 yards and an SEC-record 57 scores rushing. Florida will induct Tebow at the end of the first quarter.

His name will be unveiled on the north end zone facade at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, a display about 18-feet wide and 5-feet high that will be next to the five other inductees: linebacker Wilber Marshall, running back Emmitt Smith, 1966 Heisman Trophy winner/former coach Steve Spurrier, 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel and defensive end Jack Youngblood.

Shoring up

LSU’s banged-up offensive line is “about as healthy as we’ve been,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. The Tigers have yet to start the same combination of blockers in any game this season, but left tackle Sahdiq Charles is expected to return from a two-game absence. Right tackle Adrian Magee played last week for the first time since the season opener. LSU will be without left guard Garrett Brumfield.

Slippery slope

LSU didn’t have a turnover during its first three games, but has lost three fumbles in the last two outings. The lack of ball security has Orgeron concerned against Florida, which has a league-leading 14 takeaways.

Sold-out Swamp

It will be the first packed house on the Gators’ home field in three seasons, the first since Florida State visited in late November of 2015 and the first SEC sellout since Ole Miss visited that October. UF has reported fewer than 90,000 fans every game the past two seasons and has not drawn even 82,000 fans in three homes games this season. The Gators exceeded the 90,000 threshold during all 27 home games of Mullen’s four seasons in Gainesville and lost just twice.

Facts & Figures

LSU is one of four teams nationally that hasn’t thrown an interception this season. … Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow is 5-0 as LSU’s starter and the only quarterback in school history with a pair of top-10 wins in his first three starts. … The Gators also will celebrate the 2008 national championship team at halftime.

Today’s game questions

• How will the fans respond to Dan Mullen’s challenge to recapture the atmosphere that used to be in The Swamp during his days as the offensive coordinator?

• How will Florida’s defensive front hold up against LSU’s power running game?

• Will quarterback Feleipe Franks, a former LSU commitment, continue to make progress under Mullen?

• Who turns out to be the true DBU on this day?

• Can the Gators generate a running game to take some of the pressure off Franks?

Click back Monday for Andreu’s answers

Andreu’s pick

Florida 13, LSU 10

(Season record: 2-3)

Sun staff writer Pat Dooley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. It didn’t matter who Robbie picked…what mattered wasn’t anything that anyone thought what mattered was that the fifth string tight end hit the Gators QB who really struggled for a perfect pass and that might have been enough to tip the balance in a tough game