Published October 8, 2013 – 10:30am
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The SEC’s Game of the Week features two teams out to prove a point. Both teams have played one good team, and each team lost it. So, Florida and LSU creates a premier matchup for a battle of supremacy within the conference.
Here are five things to watch for:
Physicality: One could argue the Florida-LSU game last season was 2012’s most physical game. Although LSU isn’t as strong on the defensive line and has a slightly different offensive identity, they will still hit you in mouth and be ultra physical. Both teams take pride in being physical and wearing the other team down in the second half. Which team will enforce their will on the other? Florida and LSU just want to beat each other up.
Related: Florida is dominating pass defense
Ali vs. Frazier: The sexiest matchup in college football – and specifically within this game – is Florida’s secondary against LSU’s passing game. QB Zach Mettenberger is torching teams with receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, who have combined for 1,302 receiving yards. But they haven’t played a defense like Florida’s, specifically a secondary filled with NFL defensive backs. The Gators lead the SEC in pass defense, good for sixth in the country, allowing just 152 passing yards. The Tigers are averaging nearly 300 passing yards per game. Beckham and Landry against Vernon Hargreaves, Loucheiz Purifoy, Jaylen Watkins and Marcus Roberson will be the most entertaining and talented matchup maybe for the entire season. Several top NFL prospects will be on display in the battle of the heavyweights.
Eye on the running game: Does LSU have three running backs better than Florida’s top back? Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue could all be more talented than Florida’s Matt Jones and Mack Brown. Hill is the best back in this game and has rushed for 594 yards and nine TDs, despite not showing up against Georgia and missing the first game of the season. Matt Jones leads the Gators with 322 yards and two TDs, but he hasn’t been as explosive as he looked even last year, and Brown doesn’t provide that burst either. The Gators will also rely on QB Tyler Murphy and athlete Valdez Showers to help with production against the Tigers.
Florida’s game plan: It’s all about eating clock and using that python of a defense to suck the life out of the game clock. Get bored watching Florida’s offense? Get used to it. Will Muschamp and Brent Pease are content to run the same play over and over up the middle for minimal games and punt it. Time of possession isn’t a priority for Oregon or LSU, but it is for Florida in their style of play. The Gators lead college football in time of possession, averaging 37:39 minutes per game. But what if LSU puts Florida in a 10- or 14-point hole early? How much will that game plan change? It’s important the Gators get off to a quick start against the Tigers.
LSU’s game plan: Cam Cameron and Les Miles know their defense is struggling. They couldn’t outscore Georgia, but they can outscore Florida. What’s the magic number? Score as many points as possible and keep the foot on the pedal. Can they do that against Florida’s defense? It’ll be fun finding out. The magic number for LSU may be around 40. The Gators under new QB Tyler Murphy will score against the Tigers’ maligned defense. However, the Gators have held 12 consecutive SEC teams to 20 points or less. Will that end Saturday? You have to think it will.
Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports