Gameday Preview: What you need to know about Florida vs. LSU
The Gators haven’t had a problem with being in the underdog role this season.
Florida has entered two games (vs. Tennessee, vs. Ole Miss) as the underdog this season and the Gators have won both contests. Now, Florida will look to do it a third time, as it enters its road game against LSU as a 7-point underdog.
Here’s some stuff to get you ready for game day.
No. 8 Florida (6-0, 4-0 SEC) at No. 6 LSU (5-0, 3-0 SEC), Saturday at 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Weather: 66 degrees, 0 percent chance of rain
Line: LSU is favored to win by 7 points.
Numbers to know:
* Florida ranks seventh nationally in sacks per game (3.5) and 12th nationally in tackles for loss per game (8.2).
* Jim McElwain has won 15 of his past 16 games as a head coach and he’s the first head coach to start his tenure at Florida with a 6-0 record since Galen Hall in 1984.
* Florida leads the SEC and ranks eighth nationally with a plus-eight turnover margin this season.
* LSU quarterback Brandon Harris ranks last in the SEC with 89 pass attempts through five games this season, averaging 17 pass attempts per contest. But he has not thrown an interception yet this season.
* LSU running back Leonard Fournette is on pace to run for 2,248 yards in the regular season, which would shatter the SEC single-season rushing record of 1,891 yards set by Georgia’s Herschel Walker in 1981.
Storylines to watch:
* Treon Harris to the rescue?: The Gators hope so. With Will Grier serving a year-long suspension for a violation of the NCAA’s policy for performance-enhancing drugs, Harris will need to shake off the rust and lead the Gators against LSU on Saturday. The good news for Florida is that Harris brings some experience, as he has posted a 5-2 record in seven career starts. As a freshman last season, he led the Gators to a comeback win over Tennessee in Knoxville and did what he needed to do in a win over Georgia. Harris threw for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns, and ran for 338 yards and three touchdowns last year. But don’t expect Florida’s offense to look the same as it did with Grier at the helm. Let’s look back at Florida’s first two games this season, when Harris took the majority of his snaps this season. Florida called passing plays 49 percent of the time with Harris on the field. With Grier on the field over the first two games of the season, the Gators called passing plays 63 percent of the time. So, Florida will likely throw the ball less with Harris as the starter.
* Leonard’s world: Can the Gators find a way to limit (because there’s no stopping) LSU running back Leonard Fournette? If Florida is going to have a chance to beat the Tigers, the answer will have to be yes. No team has been able to contain Fournette this season, as the Heisman frontrunner leads the nation with 1,022 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns on just 119 carries in five games this season. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Fournette is averaging 8.6 rushing yards per carry and 204.4 rushing yards per game. Those numbers have to scare Gators fans. But Florida coaches and players are hopeful they have the plan and personnel to make Fournette earn his yards Saturday. The plan is for the Gators to gang-tackle Fournette, making sure there are multiple guys around the physical runner to bring him down. Florida enters the game ranked 12th nationally in stopping the run, allowing 99.2 rushing yards per game. It should be fun to see who wins this matchup within the matchup.
* The battle over ‘DBU’: With all of the off-field issues surrounding the Gators this week, this storyline has been overshadowed. But it’s important to remember the social-media debate that went on in the summer between defensive backs from Florida and LSU over the title of “DBU” or “Defensive Back University.” Now both units will get a chance to prove their case to each other. The Gators enter the matchup ranked 44th nationally, allowing 197.2 passing yards per game. The Tigers enter the matchup ranked 38th nationally, allowing 191.8 passing yards per game. Those aren’t exactly “DBU” like numbers, but both groups have shown glimpses of their potential. Motivation won’t be a problem for these secondaries on Saturday.
My prediction: LSU 24, Florida 17.
Anthony’s season picks record: 4-2.