Florida Gators vs LSU Tigers
Date: Saturday, November 19th
Time: 1:00 PM
TV: SEC Network
Last Meeting: Last year LSU defeated Florida 35-28 in Baton Rouge.
Last Time Out:
- Florida beat South Carolina 20-7
- LSU beat Arkansas 38-10
LSU Tigers Breakdown:
- Interim Head Coach: Ed Orgeron is 20-28 overall in his 5th year as a head coach and 4-1 at LSU as an interim.
- Conference: SEC West
- 2016 Overall Record: 6-3
- 2016 Conference Record: 4-2
Players to Watch:
- Junior Running Back Leonard Fournette
In what is most likely Fournette’s last home game he will look to improve on his 160 YPG average against the Gators. On the season Fournette is averaging 116 YPG.
- Senior Linebacker Kendell Beckwith
Kendell Beckwith ranks 2nd in the SEC in tackles with 90 and tackles per game at 10
5 Things to know about LSU:
- LSU’s defense has allowed only 10 touchdowns all season, the fewest for the Tigers in the first 8 games of a season since the 2006 team gave up 8 during that span.
- Since Les Miles firing, the Tigers are averaging 11.6 PPG more and winning by an average of 16.75 PPG more.
- LSU has only given up one 100-yard rusher this year. They surrendered 114 yards to quarterback Jalen Hurts.
- LSU is the only team in the FBS to hold opponents to 21 points or less in every game this year.
- The Tigers are the only team in the nation with two players who have rushed for 250 yards or more in a game this season (Leonard Fournette 284 vs. Ole Miss; Derrius Guice 252 vs. Arkansas).
5 Things to Pay Attention to:
- Florida’s Overall Depth
Last month when the game was originally scheduled there were concerns about Florida’s depth and who will and will not play. This time around there is no question about the Gators health situation. With multiple starters out on both sides of the ball, the Gators depth will be tested against one of the most talented rosters across the country. The most common would in McElwain’s press conferences has become ‘OUT’. https://twitter.com/NickdelaTorreGC/status/799015852582563840/photo/1
- Boilermaker Bowl
In a weird turn of fortunes for both Austin Appleby and Danny Etling, they once again find themselves competing against each other, this time in opposite colored jerseys. Danny Etling has been in the starting role since game two for LSU and Appleby will be making his 4th start as the Gators QB. The Purdue transfers are looking to write a storybook ending for their careers and for Appleby especially, he is looking to lead the Gators to back to back trips to the SEC Championship game.
- Home Field Advantage
Much has been said about this game being switched to Baton Rouge and that change is more than just a scheduling convenience for two SEC teams. Though the game is played at noon central time and Florida will not have to face a lathered up Death Valley at night, it is an advantage for LSU. This year at home LSU is winning by an average of 16.8 PPG
- Baptism by Fire
Last week Florida started two freshmen at middle linebacker. At home versus South Carolina is a great way to acclimated. Baton Rouge, Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice is another animal. This will be a challenge for the two youngest starters on the defense who will play the most important roles in stopping a dominant running game.
- Sharpe and Jordan or McCoy and Harkless
Early last week the Florida offensive line became subject to friendly fire with injuries to Sharp and Jordan. In backup duty, Tony McCoy and Kavaris Harkless played well, but that was South Carolina. This will be a major upgrade in opposition and if David Sharpe and Tyler Jordan are near 100% expect them to see significant playing time.
5 Numbers that Matter:
- 2: SEC Championship game appearances in a row if Florida wins
If the Gators beat the odds and win on the road at LSU, Jim McElwain will become the 1st coach in SEC history to reach the SEC Championship game his 1st two seasons. If that occurs it will be the 1st time since 2008 and 2009.
- 29: Opponents 3rd down conversion percentage versus Florida
The 29% conversion rate on 3rd down is tops in the SEC and 7th in the nation. This will once again be another 1st and 2nd down game. If LSU cannot generate positive plays on those downs, life will be extremely difficult moving the ball against the Gators.
- 16-16: Florida’s record in Baton Rouge
As salty as LSU has been at home, the Gators have fared well in Baton Rouge. They have lost their last three trips to Louisiana, but those have been with backup quarterbacks. This will be another tall task, but winning on the road there is not foreign to the Gators.
- 17: Total points difference in LSU’s 3 losses
LSU entered this season ranked in the top 5 and quickly tumbled to Wisconsin. Two games later their season and program might have taken a turn in the right direction after winning then losing to Auburn on the same play. Against Alabama, the defense played their heart out but the offense produced absolutely nothing. LSU has been very close to meeting expectations, yet so far away.
- 0: SEC East wins on the road versus SEC West opponents
The difference between the SEC East and SEC West has seemingly widened in recent years. The SEC East has not won a game on the road and only won 2 in total versus SEC West opponents. The Gators have not won a road game versus a SEC West opponent since 2012 when they won at Texas A&M.
5 Keys to Victory:
- Win the turnover battle
Both teams enter this game ranked 53rd in the nation in turnover margin. Florida and LSU each have played 4 games where they have turned it over multiple times. The team that can protect the ball will win this game. Both coaches may choose to play it close to the vest against these secondary’s’. Each unit ranks in the top three of pass efficiency defense in the SEC.
- Jordan Scarlett continues trending up
Last week against South Carolina Jordan Scarlett set a career high for rushing yards with 134 yards. When given an opportunity to run the ball he has proven effective. The Gators will need another great performance from Scarlett to win this game. He does not have to outperform Fournette and Guice but he has to do enough to help keep the Tigers honest and give some space for Appleby to make plays through the air.
- Protect Appleby
As maligned as the Florida offensive line has been this year, they have done a good job at least keeping the quarterback upright. The Gators currently rank 2nd in the SEC allowed per game. This will be their toughest task this year going up against LSU and Arden Key who is currently tied for 2nd in the SEC with 9 sacks.
- Appleby and Reese communication on the road
In his first two starts on the road, Appleby admitted to communication struggles. This will be his 3rd start on the road and hopefully, those ‘excuses’ as McElwain called them can be resolved. True freshman linebacker David Reese will once again be making the calls this time on the road. Any communication breakdowns can prove costly in such an important game.
- Force Etling to win the game
LSU has made a better effort in balancing the offense, but the running game is still the bread and butter. In their three loses the Tigers are averaging 113 YPG passing. If Etling cannot be helped with a running game, their offense has shown the ability to completely bog down. In those three losses they are averaging 107 rushing yards less than their season average. Etling has been okay, but he will need to be great to beat this Florida secondary, without the help of a running game.
5 Predictions for Saturday:
- Guice not Fournette will lead LSU in rushing
For two years Leonard Fournette has dominated the headlines in Baton Rouge but the production of Derrius Guice cannot go unnoticed. He enters the game as the Tigers leading rusher with 881 yards, 9 touchdowns as well as averaging 8.7 YPC. He will not put up dominating numbers, but his healthy legs will prove big for the Tigers.
- Scarlett gets back in the end zone
Since scoring a touchdown in six consecutive games, Scarlett has not found the end zone in the last two. This week that will change as the Gators lean on him for a chance to get to Atlanta. Scarlett has emerged as the primary threat out of the backfield. In games he finds the end zone the Gators are 5-1
- Appleby throws for more yards than Etling
This Saturday when the two friends square off, I am sure there is an eternal desire to outplay the other as well as do what your team needs to win the game. Both defenses will play well, expect Mac and Nuss to come up with some ball plays to help Appleby create some plays in the passing game.
- Both defenses force at least two turnovers
Neither team has been great in the turnover category because the offenses have shown the tendency to turn it over. Both defenses though are good at creating turnovers and that will be seen on Saturday afternoon.
- Field position is the difference for the winner
In a game sure to be full of punts, the team that can stay in short field situations will come out on top. Against Tennessee, in the 2nd half the Gators constantly had to drive the length of the field and that did not work out at all. When the offense is struggling to get good field position is a God send. If Florida can control field position, the leg of Eddy Pineiro can come into play and possibly make the difference.
There is a lot riding on this game for the Gators that will fuel them early. The goals wanting to be obtained by LSU entering this season have been washed away, but for interim coach Ed Orgeron, there is still a lot at play. Expect a physical and inspiring game for four quarters. The buildup for this matchup has been widely publicized and we finally can settle it on the field.
Beyond the injuries and storylines, this game comes down to who can play mistake free football and control the line of scrimmage. Expect a defensive battle with both offenses struggling to be consistent running the ball and both quarterbacks finding it hard to throw it. Appleby will make a play to keep this game tight and even put the Gators in a position to win. At the end of the day, LSU will get a few more plays in the 4th quarter from Guice and a less than 100% Fournette. A valiant effort by the Gators won’t be enough to punch their ticket to Atlanta.
LSU 17 Florida 13