Published October 2, 2012 - 11:00am
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The Matchup: #4 LSU (5-0, 1-0) at #10 Florida (4-0, 3-0)
When: Saturday, October 6th
Where: Gainesville, Florida
Game Time: 3:30 PM ET
Recent History: The mighty Bayou Bengals have beaten Florida the last two years, and the Gators have never lost three straight to LSU since the late 70’s. Florida leads the series 30-25-3, but the Tigers have won six of the last 10 games. However, Florida is 5-0 since 1994 in day games at The Swamp against LSU. The last time these two hooked up in Gainesville, Les Miles ran a balls-out fake field goal to eventually win with :06 left in the 4th. LSU clubbed Florida in Baton Rouge last season 41-11.
LSU Will Win If: The running game with Kenny Hilliard, Spencer Ware and Michael Ford provides success throughout the game. LSU is second in the SEC in rushing yardage per game (229.6), and they will absolutely need the ground game going early and often in an effort to just wear out Florida’s defense late in the game. The Tigers’ defense will be ever so solid, but the passing attack of Zach Mettenberger has its concerns. At least he shaved the nasty mustache. That’s a start. The offensive line has struggled at times, too, and Mett has held onto the ball too long through five weeks. It’s imperative the Tigers have success running the football, even without their battering ram in fullback JC Copeland, who’s out with a knee injury.
Florida Will Win If: The Gators force LSU to be one-dimensional. This is the best rushing offense Will Muschamp and his defense has faced yet, and it will be critical to make Mettenberger beat them through the air. I’m not sure Mett can throw for 200 yards against the Gators’ secondary, but he will be able to accomplish that feat if Florida can’t be physical at the point of attack and stop the running game. That’s Florida’s MO this season: win the running game. They’ll try and do just that, as Muschamp sweats profusely on the sidelines.
Storyline: This is separation Saturday. LSU hasn’t shown how good they can be yet, and Florida is trying to prove to everyone they are legitimately back. Alabama looks like the premier team in the West, and LSU has a tough stretch coming up before they face off with the Tide. It’s crucial the Tigers get this win to even stay in contention in the West. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are all vying for a leg-up in the East race.
Player(s) To Watch: For Florida, Jeff Driskel will have a big say in how the Gators fare in this football game. He’s played well up to this point, and he’s kept turnovers to a minimum and made passes when he has had to. However, he’ll need to use his legs to make plays against the Tigers. Towson had success running zone-read and quarterback draws last week. I fully expect Florida to let Driskel run 10-12 times on designed plays to help alleviate the aggressive LSU defensive line. We haven’t seen a lot of designed runs from the quarterback, other than the Trey Burton Wildcat formation.
For LSU, the game will be Zach Mettenberger’s second big road game test. He survived the first one against Auburn, but he didn’t convince anyone he’s the weapon we all expected in the passing game. We know Will Muschamp will try and take away the biggest threat on offense – the running game – in an effort to make Mett have to make plays through the air. Much like Tennessee, Florida will play run-heavy, leaving some one-on-one matchups in the secondary. Mett will need to hit those plays when the opportunity arises.