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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 quarterback Emory Jones looks for a receiver against Towson during the second half on Sept. 28 in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Emory Jones all have remaining eligibility, which adds an interesting dynamic to next season.
  2. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws a pass in the first half of an NCAA football game against Alabama Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa , Ala. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP
    Two notable teams fell despite 50-plus point wins. That happens sometimes.
  3. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is carried off the field by his teammates after defeating Alabama 46-41 on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP
    The Tigers break an eight-game losing streak to the Tide with a gutty, statement road victory.
  4. Florida linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, here against Tennessee earlier this season, says “I’m proud of myself’’ after leading Florida’s defensive domination vs. Vanderbilt. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Journal: One of Diabate’s sacks is also a turnover that sets up a Gators touchdown.
  5. Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) runs after a reception past Vanderbilt linebacker Kenny Hebert (21) during the first half in Gainesville. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Kyle Trask’s 363 yards were the most by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow in 2008. But give credit to the guys catching his throws.
  6. Quarterback Kyle Trask threw for 257 yards and got the Gators back in the game vs. Georgia in the second half, but Florida lost 24-17. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The last three times Florida lost to Georgia, the Gators lost the next game by double digits.
  7. Quarterback Jameis Winston and the Bucs play their first home game in 49 days at 1 p.m. Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Can Jameis Winston make the Bucs’ welcome-home game a success?
  8. USF Bulls head coach Charlie Strong on the sideline during the second half of the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, October 12, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Here are our picks for this week’s top college football games, including USF-Temple, FSU-Boston College, Florida-Vanderbilt and Alabama-LSU.
  9. Florida State fans watch as Miami wins an NCAA college football game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Matt Baker joins Rick Stroud to talk coaching search, USF-Temple, Gators and Alabama-LSU.
  10. Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, left, scores a touchdown against Wisconsin during the second half of a game Oct. 26, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State beat Wisconsin 38-7. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) JAY LAPRETE  |  AP
    Clemson being out of the top four was notable.
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