No. 8 Florida Gators football is coming off a difficult week but must keep its focus and test its will against the No. 6 LSU Tigers on Saturday evening. Florida is hoping to avoid dropping a Southeastern Conference game in order to keep its lead atop the SEC East and continue moving forward as a program.
Here’s a look ahead at Saturday’s game: what to know and how to watch the Gators.
Location: Tiger Stadium – Baton Rouge, Louisiana [Capacity: 102,321]
Weather: 67°F, partly cloudy (0% chance of rain), winds NNE at 5 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT
TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Tale of the tape
|No. 8 Florida Gators||No. 6 LSU Tigers|
|Head Coach: Jim McElwain||Head Coach: Les Miles|
|Record: 6-0 (4-0 SEC)||Record: 5-0 (3-0 SEC)|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
Spread: Florida +7 | O/U: 45.5
Rolling into Baton Rouge coming off an incredibly difficult week for the program off the field, Florida will be looking for a serious reversal of fortunes as the program looks to continue its turnaround and set itself up as the clear leader in the SEC East. LSU, which has rolled over its competition to date, undoubtedly faces its toughest defensive test of the season despite having a tremendous homefield advantage in Death Valley at night.
Miles has gotten the best of Florida over the last decade, helping the Tigers go 6-4 against the Gators and 4-1 in games played in Baton Rouge. While that is significant, it does not mean Florida has no chance on Saturday at LSU.
In fact, while the Tigers have been able to put up points against SEC foes, they’ve done so against defenses that have not performed nearly as well as expected (45-21 over Auburn, 45-24 over South Carolina). LSU did squeak by Mississippi State 21-19 in its season opener but has also faced two other nonconference opponents since in Syracuse (34-24 and Eastern Michigan (44-22).
The Gators, meanwhile, struggled in consecutive contests against Kentucky (14-9) and Tennessee (28-27) but have been rolling as of late, crushing Ole Miss (38-10) and Missouri (21-3). Of course, those recent dominant victories included Florida taking advantage of the progression of redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier, who is suspended for the remainder of the season.
According to Sports Betting Dime, LSU is the favorite to win the game this weekend against Florida, which is no surprise due to Grier’s suspension for violating the NCAA’s banned substance rule.
While some believe the difference between Grier and sophomore Treon Harris is minimal, I believe it is significant. So significant that my prediction changes from the Gators winning the game straight up to simply covering the spread, as the Tigers do not have the passing game to score enough points and put this game out of reach.
Star running back Leonard Fournette should get his yards and touchdowns for LSU; the question is whether any other player will be able to hurt Florida’s defense. Are there going to be more than six touchdowns scored in this contest with UF’s rushing defense and Harris at the helm instead of Grier? Don’t see that, which is why the under makes a lot of sense.
ATS picks: 5-1 | O/U picks: 5-1
Injuries and absences
» Probable (2): Running back Kelvin Taylor (ankle), linebacker Jeremi Powell (ankle)
» Questionable (1): Defensive back Marcell Harris (undisclosed)
» Doubtful (4): DB Chris Williamson (leg), DB Kylan Johnson (ankle), defensive tackle Thomas Holley (hip), LB Matt Rolin (undisclosed)
» Out (3): Kicker Austin Hardin (hip), tight end C’yontai Lewis (hand), LB Alex Anzalone (shoulder), running back Case Harrison (thumb)
The team captains, which change weekly, are solely responsible for choosing the uniforms ahead of each game.
» Florida is 31-27-3 all-time against LSU, but the Tigers have dominated the Gators as of late with a 4-1 lead in the series since 2010. UF is also 16-15 against LSU in Baton Rouge.
» Miles is 6-4 against Florida as LSU’s head coach, 4-1 in Baton Rouge. UF has not won at LSU since 2009.
» Saturday’s showdown will match the SEC’s No. 2 rushing defense of the Gators (99.2 yards per game) against the No. 1 rushing offense of the Tigers (346.4 ypg).
» UF is playing in a top-10 matchup for the first time since Nov. 24, 2012.
» Florida will be playing its sixth night game in a seven-game span dating back to the start of the season. It will be the second time UF is featured as the 7 p.m. game on ESPN this season. Previously, the Gators had not played an SEC game on the station’s main channel since Sept. 15, 2012.
» This is the sixth season that Florida has started 6-0 dating back to 1995. The Gators have finished the previous five seasons with at least 11 wins.
» McElwain is the first UF coach since Galen Hall (1984) to win the first six games of his career at the school.
» Florida returned to the top 10 of the AP Top 25 for the first time since the 2013 preseason.
» The Gators’ defense has been a hallmark of the program; it is 199-11 since 1990 when an opponent scores 21 points or fewer in a contest.
» UF has yet to allow a touchdown in a road game this season.
» Florida’s defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC since 2000 (409).
» UF is +8 in turnover margin this season, best in the SEC and eighth nationally.
» The Gators are tied for the nation’s longest streak of returning either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, doing so in 10 straight seasons. UF has not done so this year, as of press time.
» Florida is one of only four teams nationally to play three or more consecutive games away from home in 2015 (Arkansas, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe). UF continues that trek Saturday against LSU.
» Florida has the second-most wins in the nation since 1990 (245, Ohio State – 253).