5 reasons No. 5 LSU beats No. 7 Florida to stay on Playoff track
Florida is undefeated and ranked No. 7.
LSU is undefeated and ranked No. 5.
It’s a matchup that has lured ESPN’s College GameDay crew to Tiger Stadium for the 7 p.m. local kickoff.
The Tigers’ passing game has been phenomenal and the Gators’ pass defense has been just as good.
But neither team is a one-trick pony. In fact, neither would be ranked where it is if it didn’t do pretty much everything well.
The outcome will have a strong impact on both divisional races in the SEC as well as the College Football Playoff aspirations of both teams.
With all due respect to the Red River Shootout, this is the marquee matchup of the weekend.
Who’s going to prevail?
Here are 5 reasons LSU beats Florida:
1. Joe Burrow
You thought maybe we were going to ease into this?
No, Burrow is the biggest factor LSU has going for it.
He has been one of the most productive players in all of college football. He is the primary reason LSU is where it is.
Let’s give Kyle Trask his due. He has done a commendable job since replacing the injured Feleipe Franks, although those fumbles against Auburn last week weren’t commendable, and he showed guts coming back after spraining his knee.
But he’s not going to come close to matching Burrow’s productivity. Burrow already has 22 TD passes, tied for 2nd in the country behind Tua Tagovailoa. He’s already passed for 1,864 yards, which is 2nd in the country and tops in the SEC.
The Tigers average almost 150 more passing yards per game than the Gators do.
Yes, Florida has the most sacks in the SEC – by far. Yes, Florida has the most interceptions in the SEC – by far (though most of the SEC teams have played fewer league games than 3-0 Florida has). And the LSU offensive line has yet to look really good.
So the numbers for Burrow and the Tigers passing game aren’t going to be what they have been the last five games. But they’re going to be more than enough – and Burrow is going to be the most important player on the field.
2. The Tigers’ red-zone offense
LSU has reached the red zone 27 times this season. It has scored on all 27 opportunities.
All but 5 of those scores are touchdowns.
Half of the 22 touchdowns came on passes and half came on rushes.
So, LSU gets to the red zone a lot. When it gets there, it scores, usually by touchdown. It’s equally likely to score by a pass or run.
Try to defend that.
Yes, Florida’s red-zone defense is really good, too, so Cade York might be called on to kick a little more often.
But the points will still add up to a winning total.
3. Dave Aranda
The Tigers’ highly paid and highly praised defensive coordinator hasn’t been criticized a whole lot, but there has been a bit of head scratching about the defense’s inconsistent play – and understandably so.
But Aranda didn’t suddenly forget how to coach and his players didn’t suddenly become average defenders.
There have been some extenuating circumstances – injuries to several key players in one area (the front), adjusting to quick turnarounds because of the offense’s newfound penchant for scoring in the blink of an eye, and playing youngsters in blowouts.
And a sample from 3 or 4 games isn’t necessarily indicative of how an entire season will go.
The defense started to get healthy last week, the offense slowed the pace down a tad and the LSU defense started looking like the LSU defense against Utah State.
The Tigers should be even healthier this week. They’re tired of hearing about how good the Gators’ defense is (even though it is really good) and they smell blood with an injured backup quarterback operating against a good but not great offensive line.
Aranda will make things really hard on Dan Mullen’s offense.
4. DBU will be DBU
This whole back-and-forth about “who’s the real DBU” is kind of silly, unless you play DB at one of the schools that calls itself DBU.
The LSU secondary hasn’t lived up to its hype in 2019, but it started to come around last week with 3 interceptions.
Derek Stingley Jr. is going to show America why he might be the best freshman in America.
And a few other DBs are going to show America that DBU isn’t just about Delpit and Stingley.
5. Saturday night in Tiger Stadium
Of course, Florida has played in hostile environments before and The Swamp is a pretty hostile place in its own right.
But it’s always better to be the home team than the road team in these situations.
And it’s not good for an inexperienced quarterback, even a 4th-year junior nearly a month into his new role, to be making his first road start in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night.
It’ll be packed and it’ll be loud.
The Tigers will feed off the energy, Burrow will be really good – and the defense will swarm Trask.