One thing I’m not going to predict is whether Tim Tebow starts Saturday night. Let’s just say I won’t be shocked if he does, I won’t be shocked if he doesn’t.
But I will predict this: the Gators are good enough to win this game without Tebow. They’re better on both lines of scrimmage than LSU, they’re better on defense, they’re better on special teams.
Meyer’s plan to win will be in full effect for this one. That means play strong defense, take care of the football, score in the red zone, win special teams and the battle for field position.
This is a game where the defense is highly motivated to step up and really dominate. It seems to be the same mindset these guys had heading into the national championship game against Oklahoma. I have a feeling the defense is going to control this game (and keep the big crowd out of it for most of the night) and take the pressure off the UF offense, regardless of who starts at quarterback.
If the defense and special teams come through, the offense should consistently have a short field to work with. That would eliminate a lot of the tension and free up the Gators to open their offensive playbook a little bit more.
This is a big game for that big, physical UF offensive line. If Tebow is the quarterback, they need to protect him. If John Brantley is the guy, the Big Nasties are going to see all kinds of blitzes from the LSU defense. The Tigers will want to try and pressure Brantley into some bad decisions, which would lead to bad plays. One way to relieve the pressure is to run the ball, something the Gators have done so effectively all season. LSU will stack to stop the run if Brantley is the quarterback. That’s tough to run against, but it also creates some opportunities for UF’s quick, fast tailbacks to break out with some long runs.
So, here’s the prediction. It won’t be pretty (unless you really love defensive football), but the Gators will have enough to get it done no matter who starts at quarterback: Florida 24, LSU 21.