Florida football tickets 2017: Buy tickets for Florida games (October 7, 2017)
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The No. 21 Florida Gators will host the LSU Tigers for their homecoming game at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday.
The Gators (3-1, 3-0 SEC) are looking to improve to 4-0 in SEC play, while the Tigers (3-2, 0-1 SEC) aim to shake off a 24-21 loss to Troy.
Plus, there’s the intensity factor that resulted from the rivalry’s uptick last year.
Florida beat writers Zach Abolverdi, Jordan McPherson and Ryan Young make their predictions for how the game on Saturday will unfold.
Abolverdi: Game should serve as a Florida confidence booster
Even if the Tigers found a way to win against Troy, I still wouldn’t pick them to beat a top-25 team on the road. Florida had a disastrous start to its 2017 season, but LSU is dealing with a much bigger mess right now. Ed Orgeron is losing the fan base and the Matt Canada hire hasn’t improve the offense.
The Gators are dealing with their own problems, from suspensions to an alarming number of missed tackles. I think the injuries to Tyrie Cleveland (high-ankle sprain) and Luke Del Rio (broken collarbone) will keep the offense from scoring more than 30 points, but Florida should be to control the line of scrimmage the way it did in Death Valley last season. The Gators’ young defense may give up some big plays, but this game is more likely to serve as a confidence booster.
McPherson: Florida prevails if it sticks to its identity
Coach Jim McElwain and his team might try to say that this is just another game, but deep down, they know it’s much more than that.
Especially after the way the matchup unfolded last year. The postponement, the bickering from both fan bases — and both athletic directors — the relocation, and, ultimately, the Gators’ goal-line stand to upset LSU on its home turf.
The animosity of the annual cross-divisional rivalry should once again be heightened even as both teams are trending in different directions. Florida is 3-0 in SEC play thanks to fourth-quarter heroics in against Tennessee and Kentucky and a run game resurgence against Vanderbilt. LSU, meanwhile, was clobbered by Mississippi State, barely beat Syracuse and lost to Troy.
In the end, Florida should win if it stays true to the run game once again, Feleipe Franks minimizes his mistakes and a wide receiver — any receiver — steps up in Tyrie Cleveland’s absence. The defense will give up a few big plays here and there but it won’t be enough to cost the Gators the game on Saturday.
Young: Expect the Gators to ride the ground attack
The game everybody has had circled on both sides of this matchup, probably since the end of the last one. I’m not expecting this clash between Florida and LSU to end with another goal-line stand, but I think it ends up as another close duel.
Sure, the Gators have all the momentum with three straight SEC wins while the Tigers got stunned at home by Troy last week and blown out by Mississippi State in their conference opener, but both teams have flaws. The Gators have just had some fortunate endings to help mask theirs.
While LSU’s offensive line hasn’t been quite as good as in past years, I expect the Tigers’ rushing attack to be a problem for a Florida defense with pronounced tackling issues. I also still have questions about QB Feleipe Franks’ ability to keep the Gators’ offense in rhythm — questions he could go a long way toward answering this week.
That said, I do believe the Gators can sustain what we’ve seen from the offensive line and rushing attack the last two weeks. Freshman running back Malik Davis is the real deal. Expect the Gators to ride that ground attack as far as it will carry them, minimize the pressure on Franks and prevail in a more high-scoring game than many might expect.