The No. 17 Florida Gators (4-1, 3-0 SEC) travel to Baton Rouge to take on the No. 10 LSU Tigers (5-1, 2-1 SEC) this Saturday at Tiger Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on CBS.
Florida football had their largest margin of victory on the season their last time out, a 30-10 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. LSU is coming off of a blowout win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
These two teams will be facing each other for the 60th time in their histories, with the Gators leading the all-time series 31-25-3. Florida won last year’s meeting 14-6 over the Tigers in Gainesville. However, the last time the Gators traveled to Tiger Stadium, the result was not pretty with Florida getting blown out 41-11 by then-No. 1 ranked LSU.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on throughout the game.
Florida’s pass defense vs. LSU’s passing offense
In the past this game has typically been a defensive struggle. However, this year will be quite different as LSU’s offense has broken out in a big way under the direction of new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. With that being said, the matchup that could determine the outcome of this game is Florida’s pass defense versus LSU’s passing offense. The Gators pass defense ranks sixth nationally and is led by reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week Loucheiz Purifoy and freshman Vernon Hargreaves III. It will be bolstered by the return of junior cornerback Marcus Roberson, who missed last week’s game with a knee injury.
LSU’s pass offense is led by a new and improved Zach Mettenberger. After struggling in 2012, the senior quarterback ranks fourth nationally in pass efficiency this season, with a rating of 190.1. The Tigers also have two elite receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. On the season the dynamic duo has already combined for 77 catches for 1,302 yards and 13 touchdowns.
This will truly be a strength versus strength matchup and whomever wins the battle could very likely end up winning the game.
Who is the kicker?
This game has the potential to be close, which means it could come down to a field goal attempt. Unfortunately for the Gators, neither option at kicker seems to be really reliable right now as both Austin Hardin and Brad Phillips have been inconsistent. The redshirt freshman Hardin has been the kicker for most of the season but is just 4-for-8 after having a kick blocked in the Arkansas game. He was subsequently replaced in the game by the senior walk-on Phillips who hit a 28-yard field goal but then missed an extra point attempt later in the game. Luckily for the Gators, poor special teams play hasn’t cost them yet, but these things always seem to rear their ugly head at some point. As unfortunate as it is, Caleb Strugis is not walking through that door.
Tiger Stadium is well known as being one of the most difficult places in the country for opposing teams to play and it will by far be the most hostile environment the Florida football team has played in this season. LSU has gone an outstanding 53-7 at home under head coach Les Miles, including a 3-1 record at home against the Gators during that span. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy will be making just his third career start, and has certainly never played in an environment like Tiger Stadium. If the Gators hope to make it out of Death Valley with a victory Murphy will need to continue to play with the poise and calm demeanor that he has exhibited in his first two starts.
LSU 27, Florida 23