It’s No. 5 LSU and No. 22 Florida in their annual crossover rivalry game.
The Tigers will try to keep pace with No. 1 Alabama in the West, and the Gators, who have already lost to Kentucky, will try to avoid falling out of the East race.
The game will be physical, the weather will be hot and humid and the game will be decided in the final moments.
Here are 10 bold predictions for LSU and Florida:
1. No one will rush for 100 yards
In fact, no individual running back will get more than 75 yards in this game. Both teams have very good defenses, and both offenses distribute their carries among multiple backs. The Tigers may have some running success with Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and the Gators may have success with some combination of Jordan Scarlett, Lamical Perine and Dameon Pierce. But in either case, it’s going to have to be a methodical group effort.
2. LSU will finish with the same offensive line it starts with
This might not seem real bold, but the composition of the Tigers’ line has been changing constantly. LSU is expected to start its sixth different combination in as many games, and backups will have to play because of the physicality and the heat. But whichever group the Tigers start with will be the one they finish with.
3. Polite and Zuniga will excel
Whoever plays on the line for LSU will have their hands full. There’s a good chance Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga each gets a sack in any game, but we’re expecting both to get multiple sacks of Joe Burrow in this one. They are two of the better pass rushers in the SEC, and LSU’s offensive line is still a work in progress even though it has performed pretty well under adverse circumstances.
4. Both quarterbacks will struggle
Both Burrow and Feleipe Franks are completing fewer than 60 percent of their passes this season, and neither will complete more than half of their throws in this game. They’ll be under pressure, and their receivers will have a hard time getting much separation from their defenders.
5. Franks will make a critical turnover
These are the top two teams in the SEC in turnover margin. Florida is plus-9 and LSU is plus-7. If either team has an advantage in turnovers/takeaways, that will likely be the deciding factor. Burrow, who has yet to throw an interception but who has lost two fumbles, will take better care of the football than Franks, who has thrown three interceptions.
6. Grant Delpit will stand out
Viewers have gotten used to seeing linebacker Devin White and cornerback Greedy Williams stand out week in and week out, especially in LSU’s bigger games. But safety Grand Delpit has quickly joined them as an elite defender. His ability to make tackles in the running game, pressure the passer as a blitzer and make plays in pass coverage means opposing offenses can’t avoid him. White will make lots of tackles and pressure the quarterback, and Williams will break up some passes. Delpit will do all three.
7. The heat will be a factor
It’s mid afternoon in Florida in early October. It will be hot, it will be humid, and there’s a reason they call this place the Swamp. Both teams like to rotate two sets of defensive lines, and that will be especially useful in this game. That’s going to make it hard on both offensive lines and therefore both offenses, which is why …
8. Neither team will score more than 24 points
The strength of the defenses, the limitations of the offenses and the toll that the heat and humidity will take will make points difficult to come by. LSU won last year’s meeting 17-16, and a similar total of points and small margin of victory will be the order of the day again.
9. There will be more field goals than touchdowns
Though the defenses will set the tone, the offenses will move the ball and have scoring opportunities. But the yards will be extremely difficult to come by in the red zone, and the kickers will become huge factors. Fortunately for both teams, they have outstanding kickers. LSU’s Cole Tracy is 10-for-12, and his misses have come from beyond 50 yards. Florida is 9-for-10 (Evan McPherson 8-for-9 and Jorge Powell 1-for-1).
10. The raucous, nostalgia-filled crowd will be on the other foot
Last week, LSU celebrated its 1958 national championship team and unveiled a statue of that team’s star player – Billy Cannon. On Saturday, the Gators will celebrate their 2008 national championship team and induct that team’s star player – quarterback Tim Tebow – into its Ring of Honor. The emotions will further fuel an already stoked crowd of Gators fans.