LSU TIGERS (5-0)
at FLORIDA GATORS (4-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Line: LSU -2˝, Total: 44˝
A pair of top-10 teams will try to stay unbeaten when No. 4 LSU visits No. 10 Florida on Saturday afternoon.
LSU has beaten Florida the past two times they played, including a 41-11 blowout last year when the Tigers gained more yards on the ground (238) than the Gators had in total yards (213). This season, LSU has turned the ball over five times (with 19 penalties) during a two-game ATS skid, while Florida has committed just one turnover during a three-game ATS win streak. The Tigers rank fourth in FBS total defense (218 YPG), but have played an easier schedule than the Gators, who have 95 points in three SEC wins.
Who will win this SEC showdown? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Zach Mettenberger is having a solid year as LSU’s starting signal-caller, completing 66% of his passes for 1,016 yards, 6 TD and 2 INT. However, he was not very good in his lone road start, completing just 15-of-27 passes for 169 yards and two lost fumbles in a 12-10 win at Auburn. The Tigers are more likely to rely on their multi-player rushing attack in this game. Although Alfred Blue (knee) is out indefinitely, Kenny Hilliard (366 rush yds, 6 TD), Michael Ford (224 rush yds, 2 TD) and Spencer Ware (164 rush yds) are all capable backs. Ware ran for 109 yards and 2 TD against Florida last year. In the passing game, Odell Beckham, Jr. is coming off a huge performance against Towson, catching five passes for 128 yards and 2 TD. Although the Tigers are known more for their excellent run-stop unit (83 YPG allowed, 9th in nation), the passing defense has been even better this year, allowing 135 passing YPG, which ranks sixth among FBS schools. No Tigers opponent has reached 175 passing yards in a game this season. LSU is blessed with plenty of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, forcing 12 turnovers so far in 2012.
Like LSU, Florida also knows how to run the football, averaging 225 rushing YPG (20th in FBS). Mike Gillislee leads the way with 402 rushing yards (2nd in SEC) and 5 TD, and he also had nice game at LSU last year with 56 yards on just nine carries. RB Trey Burton missed last week’s 38-0 win over Kentucky with a back injury, but he is expected to return to the field on Saturday. Sophomore QB Jeff Driskel has made great decisions all year, completing 70 percent of his passes for 698 yards (8.8 YPA), 4 TD and 1 INT. He is also the team’s second-leading rusher, scampering for 114 yards on 16 carries in the past two weeks. Driskel must be cognizant of LSU’s talented front four, especially considering Florida’s O-Line is allowing three sacks per game (104th in nation). The probable return of LB Jelani Jenkins (thumb) after a two-game absence will further enhance an excellent Florida defense. The Gators rank 10th in scoring defense (12.8 PPG) and 17th in total defense (305 YPG), but will need to pressure the quarterback with greater consistency moving forward. Florida has just 1.25 sacks per game (T-98th in nation) and 5.0 Tackles For Loss per game (T-84th in FBS).