Week 7 - Florida at LSU

Posted Oct 9, 2013

Week 7 Fearless Predictions & Preview - Florida at LSU

Florida (4-1) at LSU (5-1) Oct. 5 3:30, CBS

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The difference between being in the national title chase and being destined for just another New Year's Day bowl is paper thin in the SEC. 11-1, and you're right there in the discussion for a BCS game. 10-2, and you get some Big Ten school to go beat up.

This isn't an elimination game in the SEC race, at least it isn't for Florida, but it might not be far off. LSU can't afford a second SEC loss with Alabama and Texas A&M still to deal with from the West, and while the Gators can play for the conference title by sweeping the East, they still have to go to Missouri and South Carolina to go along with the party against Georgia – there's little margin for error.

It's not like LSU is flying under the radar, but it's not getting the respect it deserves in the rankings considering the lone loss was in a wild shootout at Georgia. However, there's a general sense that everything is in a wee bit of a holding pattern until the showdown with Alabama on November 9th, mainly because no one is really buying into Florida.

In a league full of wild offenses and superstar quarterbacks, pounding the ball and playing great defense just isn't sexy, but the Gators are plugging right along after the loss of starting quarterback Jeff Driskel for the season. If anyone really paid attention, Florida dominated in the loss to Miami, but Driskel's breakdowns and turnovers turned out to be the downfall, and now no one seems to be paying attention. One win over LSU would change all of that.

They've played each other every year since 1971, and for the most part, at least lately, they've been involved in some wars. Florida dominated in the Steve Spurrier coaching era, but LSU has won two of the last three. This series has seen just about everything, and it's always entertaining, even if it's not a wild shootout.

Slugfests can be fun, too.

Why Florida Might Win: Don't dismiss the Florida offense. The defense gets all the credit, and rightly so ranking second in the nation allowing just 217 yards per game, but the Gator attack is brutally effective with a tough, pounding ground game and good play coming from Tyler Murphy. How do you keep the LSU offense down? Control the clock and keep things moving, and no one hangs on to the ball better than Florida. It helps when the defense gets off the field in a hurry, but Florida does a nice job of milking the clock keeping the ball for a nation-leading 37:39 a game. LSU's defensive front is solid, but it's not generating enough of a pass rush and it's just okay against the tougher ground games. This isn't the Tiger defense of the last few seasons, at least not yet, and it's possible Florida might simply be Florida while keeping Zach Mettenberger from getting into a groove. He can't make plays if he's on the sidelines.

Why LSU Might Win: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that ball control and defense thing might be all well and good for the Gators, but that mostly works when they don't have to mount a big comeback. Florida never panics, and it manages to keep on doing what it does no matter what, and eventually the power game wins out, but there will be issues if LSU can take control early. The Florida offense has been fine since Murphy took over, but Kentucky and Arkansas aren't LSU. Points are going to be at a premium, and despite all the good things the Gators might be able to do, they're going to have to convert good drives into points each and every time, and they probably won't. They're having kicking issues, hitting just 5-of-9 field goal attempts while LSU's Colby Delahoussaye has hit all seven of his tries.

Who To Watch Out For: 5-9, 171-pound Florida senior Solomon Patton hasn't done much over the course of his career, but he's starting to come up big when the team needs a dangerous offensive playmaker the most. Really, really fast, he's being used in a variety of ways, coming up with six catches for 124 yards and two scores against Arkansas, and averaging over 18 yards per catch on his 19 grabs. Decent as a runner, he'll get a few carries as well to try getting him into open space.

- Tiger RB Jeremy Hill is on fire. The LSU passing game is getting most of the national attention, but Hill has come off of his off-the-field drama and one game suspension with everything working, averaging 7.5 yards per carry while cranking out over 100 yards in three of the last four games with nine touchdowns on the year. He has power and toughness, but he's also showing he can hit the home run. While he might not come up with any big plays against the nation's No. 2 run defense, balancing things out with a few good runs here and there will do the job.

- In the something's got to give department, LSU leads the SEC and is fourth in the nation in passing efficiency. Mettenberger is doing a fantastic job of driving the ball down the field, but Florida is second in the nation behind Michigan State in pass efficiency defense.

- Florida hasn't been that bad in Death Valley, winning four of the last seven games on the road going back to 1997.

What Will Happen: Florida will give LSU fits. It's running game is going to be effective, Murphy will make a few big plays, and the defense will keep Hill in check. And then Mettenberger will come through. He'll have a rocky game, but he'll come up with one or two big plays in the second half to finally give the Tigers control in a war. Field goals will be the difference.

Prediction: LSU 23 … Florida 17
Line: LSU -7 o/u: 47
Must See Rating: (5 Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight – 1 I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding) … 4.5
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