Game Day Preview: What you need to know about LSU-Florida matchup
Are good fortunes coming LSU’s way again?
For the fourth consecutive week, the Tigers will play against an opponent’s backup quarterback. Florida’s starter, Will Grier, was suspended for the rest of the season for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Treon Harris should get the start in Grier’s place Saturday night at Death Valley.
The Tigers will get their toughest test from the Gators with or without Grier.
Here’s everything you need to know for Saturday’s showdown between two undefeated SEC foes:
No. 8 Florida Gators (6-0) at No. 6 LSU Tigers (5-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Weather: 71 degrees, 0 percent chance of rain
Line: LSU -7 (according to Caesar’s Palace)
Series record: Florida leads series 31-27-3
By the numbers
11.5 – Florida’s average margin of victory in two road games this season. The Gators slipped past Kentucky 14-9 in September and defeated Missouri 21-3 last weekend.
22.3 – LSU’s margin of victory in three games in Baton Rouge, La. this season. The Tigers have beaten Auburn, Eastern Michigan and South Carolina by at least 20 points at home.
34.8 – Florida’s opponents have tried to beat the Gators through the air. Opponents have averaged 34.8 pass attempts per game against Florida’s defense. Will LSU utilize the same strategy? Tigers quarterback Brandon Harris has averaged just 17.8 pass attempts per game.
99.17 – Florida has allowed an average of 99.17 rushing yards per game. LSU tailback Leonard Fournette might not find as many running lanes against the 12th-best run defense in the nation.
111 – New Florida starting quarterback Treon Harris has some playing experience. He threw 111 passes last year in nine games for the Gators and has completed 19 of 27 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns in mop-up duty this season.
Storylines to watch
Harris vs. Harris
Saturday’s outcome will be determined by which Harris plays better at quarterback. Florida’s offense likely won’t change much with Treon Harris under center, while LSU may have to rely on Brandon Harris more often if Fournette struggles to find room to run. Brandon Harris played the strongest game of his sophomore season last weekend, but he hasn’t proven he can carry the Tigers offense.
Fournette missing his lead blocker
Fournette gave LSU fullback JD Moore his team MVP award after LSU blew out Auburn earlier in the season. Moore’s presence on the field has not been underestimated by the Heisman Trophy front-runner. Moore will miss Saturday’s game against the Gators after he suffered a knee injury last weekend against South Carolina. This injury comes at a bad time, as the Gators possess the toughest front seven LSU will face all season. True freshman Bry’Kiethon Mouton will be thrown into the fire in the first start of his collegiate career in relief of Moore.
The Las Vegas over/under for Saturday’s game has ranged from 46 to 47.5 points around various sportsbooks. Don’t be surprised if this game finishes well under the projected point total. Florida has allowed just 14.3 points per game, while LSU has surrendered an average of 22 points per game. LSU’s defense hasn’t been elite, but the Tigers will catch a break facing Florida’s second-string quarterback. Fournette will find a way to get to 100 yards, but don’t expect him to break too many 80-yard touchdown runs like has the past couple of weeks.
Prediction: LSU 23, Florida 21
The Gators will keep this contest close even without Grier. Treon Harris has enough experience to keep Florida competitive and its defense could hold Fournette to a season low in rushing yards. However, a couple of big throws by Brandon Harris will get the Tigers in field goal range for a game-winning kick by Trent Domingue to send LSU to 6-0.