Barring an absolute collapse by Georgia this game likely isn't about SEC East titles or postseason positioning, this is about both Florida and LSU facing must-win situations.
For Florida, a loss drops them to 4-3 with the Bulldogs still looming. It would make it very, very difficult for the Gators to avoid a second straight four-loss season, which would likely start to heat up the seat for head coach Dan Mullen. A win, of course, gives Florida a 5-2 record and sets up an opportunity for the Gators to make some real noise this season when it plays Georgia (Oct. 30).
Despite leading LSU to a national championship just two seasons ago the seat is scalding for head coach Ed Orgeron. The Tigers followed up their miraculous title run with a 5-5 campaign and they enter this matchup 3-3 and coming off an embarrassing 42-21 loss to Kentucky. Road games against Ole Miss and Alabama still remain, as do home matchups against Texas A&M and Arkansas. Drop this game and a losing season becomes very, very likely.
Irish Breakdown has analyzed the game and is ready to make predictions.
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Florida 37, LSU 30
LSU's offense has been sputtering of late, and the Tigers don't look anything like they did two seasons ago when they put arguably the best offense in college football history on the field. To make matters worse, the once vaunted Tiger defense has been mediocre the last two seasons. I expect the LSU offense to be better in this matchup against a Florida defense that has been vulnerable to giving up yards in the pass game this season.
The issue is I don't think the LSU defense can slow down the Florida offense, which is starting to catch fire. Florida is averaging 451.3 yards (6.6 YPP) in its four SEC contests so far and has shown it can score when it can come out balanced.
After struggling in the first two games (2 TD, 4 INT), Emory Jones has started to catch fire, completing 70.4% of his throws while tossing seven touchdowns and three picks in four league games to go with 323 rushing yards and another score. That run-throw ability is going to be too much for the Tigers, who lose another game in a shootout.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Florida 41, LSU 14
If only it were 2019 in Baton Rouge. But unfortunately for Big Ed O Joe Burrow isn’t walking through that door. Florida is a pretty healthy program especially when compared to LSU. A bad loss in the swamp could give a coach O his walking papers. The Gators will do everything in their power to make that happen.
ANDREW MCDONOUGH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Florida 30, LSU 20
This is a must-win game for LSU coach Ed Orgeron. While no one expected LSU to contend for the national title this season, back-to-back losses to Auburn (blowing a 9-point 4th quarter lead) and Kentucky (trailed 35-7 at one point) have not sat well in Baton Rouge. Unfortunately for Orgeron, five of the Tigers’ next six games are against ranked opponents, and I think he needs to beat both Florida and Ole Miss in the next two games to even survive the bye week and prevent athletic director Scott Woodward from getting an early ticket on the coaching carousel.
I expect LSU to play hard for Orgeron, but Florida is the better team. Though the Gators are not dynamic on offense, they lead the SEC in rushing and will be able to survive an initial punch from LSU and assert control over the line of scrimmage. On the other side, LSU will struggle to run the ball. The Tigers are 13th in the SEC in rushing at only 83.3 YPG, which puts way too much on the shoulders of QB Max Johnson. Though one of the few bright spots for the Tigers this season, Johnson won’t be able to win the game by himself.
SHAUN DAVIS, ESPN CHICAGO
Prediction: Florida 33, LSU 27
LSU will be missing its entire starting defensive line and it’s top two cornerbacks. The offense was abysmal last week against Kentucky and the Gators can be just as physical along both fronts. The saving grace for the Tigers may be the fact that Florida wants to run the ball and may not be able to take advantage of their secondary. Florida’s run game has been its bread and butter behind quarterback Emory Jones, who has rushed for 479 yards on 75 carries with 2 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Gators secondary has struggled to cover and tackle in the open field. This could give LSU plenty of opportunities in the passing game with athletic receivers. The other key for the Tigers will be the offensive line holding up against a formidable pass rush from the Gators. If they can, they should be able to put up points, but will it be enough?
RYAN ROBERTS, RISENDRAFT
Prediction: Florida 31, LSU 20
LSU is a mess right now. With so many injuries, it's hard to imagine them maintaining a high level of play for four quarters. Still, Max Johnson will manufacture some points. Ultimately, the Gators are just going to be a little too much.
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