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Four thoughts on Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers matchup

The strengths of No. 7 Florida clash against the strengths of No. 5 LSU.
Florida Gators running back Lamical Perine (22) runs the ball toward the end zone in the second quarter of last season's game against LSU in the Swamp. [Times]
Published Oct. 9

GAINESVILLE — For the second week in a row, No. 7 Florida will be at the center of the biggest game of the weekend when the Gators play at No. 5 LSU in a primetime battle of unbeaten teams.

Here are four random thoughts on the matchup at Tiger Stadium:

RELATED: LSU’s Joe Burrow: I don’t like the Florida Gators very much

1. It’s big but not monumental for UF.

The Gators’ first goal is to win the SEC East, and they can do that even with a loss to LSU (as long as they beat Georgia on Nov. 2). Beating the Bulldogs hasn’t been easy, and it won’t be easy this year, either. But UF will have a clear path to Atlanta even with a loss in Baton Rouge.

RELATED: Florida Gators: Kyle Trask, Jabari Zuniga expected to play this week against No. 5 LSU

2. The teams’ strengths match up well against each other.

Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) catches the ball near the end zone in the third quarter of last year's game vs. LSU. [Times]

LSU leads the nation in scoring (54.6 points per game). UF ranks No. 5 nationally in scoring defense and has allowed only 57 points all season. LSU’s red-zone offense has scored on all 31 of its possessions. UF’s red-zone defense is the best in the country and has allowed points on only 5 of its opponents’ 14 trips inside the 20. UF’s biggest strength offensively is a deep receiving corps that features six different players with 166-280 yards. LSU counters that with the most talented secondary in the nation (led by future first-round pick Grant Delpit).

RELATED: Why Grant Delpit is the next LSU defender Bucs fans should know

3. Because of the good-on-good matchups, I don’t have a read on how this game will go.

Could UF’s defense turn this into a low-scoring slugfest? Maybe. If that happens, UF can feel good about its chances; it won an ugly opener against Miami and churned out a 24-13 win over Auburn last week. But it’s also possible that LSU’s high-octane offense turns this into a shootout the Gators haven’t yet experienced. Can UF keep up with that? “We’ll find out,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “I mean, we’ll see. We have some good players, too.”

4. Florida’s rushing attack could decide the game.

Given LSU’s talented secondary and the fact that UF quarterback Kyle Trask is banged-up and starting in the toughest environment of his life, I’m not sure how well the Gators will be able to pass the ball. That means the run game is even more important. Aside from a few big plays, like Josh Hammond’s 76 yarder at Kentucky and Lamical Perine’s 88-yard breakaway last week, UF’s run game has struggled. And considering LSU’s top-10 run defense is allowing only 2.6 yards per attempt, the Gators will have a tough challenge to turn things around this weekend.

RELATED: ESPN’s College GameDay headed to Florida vs. LSU

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Florida head coach Dan Mullen walks on the sideline in the first half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. LSU won 42-28. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    UF followed the Georgia loss last year with a bad defeat against Mizzou. It can’t do the same this time.
  2. LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) carries against Florida defensive back Kaiir Elam (5) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. LSU won 42-28. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    Do the one-loss Florida Gators belong ahead of the one-loss Georgia Bulldogs this week?
  3. Florida running back Lamical Perine (2) pulls in a catch for a touchdown from Emory Jones during the first half against LSU. GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    Journal: The blue-chip redshirt freshman sees some important red-zone action Saturday at LSU.
  4. LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) pulls in a touchdown reception against Florida defensive back CJ Henderson (1) in the first half Saturday in Baton Rouge. GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    Dan Mullen didn’t know whether his Florida Gators could win a shootout. He got his answer in Death Valley.
  5. Florida head coach Dan Mullen, right, celebrates with his wife Megan Mullen after defeating Auburn last weekend in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Mullen wasn’t UF’s top choice. Orgeron wasn’t LSU’s top choice either. But neither program regrets the move.
  6. Florida Gators defensive back CJ Henderson (1) wags his finger after breaking up a pass intended for Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Jeff Thomas during the season opener. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Matt Baker: A running back duel at Clemson and why Jordan Cronkrite could be in for another big day for USF. Plus, Tampa Bay Times staff picks for week 7.
  7. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask looks for a receiver during the first half of last week's game against Auburn in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    As rumors percolated about Joe Burrow heading to UF, Dan Mullen said he liked the quarterbacks he had. Now we know why.
  8. Florida Gators wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) catches the ball near the end zone in the third quarter of last season's game against LSU. Times
    The day begins with the Red River Shootout and ends with a great Group of Five game.
  9. There's nothing quite like playing at LSU's Tiger Stadium at night. JONATHAN BACHMAN  |  AP
    How does Clemson’s Death Valley compare to the one at LSU?
  10. LSU has enjoyed success replicating the Saints offense guided by quarterback Drew Brees. That's just one of the influences two NFL greats will have on Saturdays Top 10 matchup between the Gators and the Tigers. TAMPA BAY TIMES
    The NFL legends have played a role in how the opposing staffs will scheme against each other in this weekend’s top-10 game.
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