This was supposed to be the battle of number 2 and number 3 in the nation for SEC supremacy, but after UF's lost last week it has lost some of it's luster. Although not as big as it once was, it means a lot to both teams. LSU has revenge on their minds after losing to UF last year and costing them a chance at going to the championship game. Meanwhile, Florida cannot afford to lose two conference games in a row and fall behind South Carolina in the race for the SEC East. The Tigers do not lose home night games too often and they are well prepared for the Gators. Urban Meyer and company have a big test in front of them and will have to play near perfect football to come out of Death Valley with a win.
UF Offense v. LSU Defense
LSU has the number 2 defense in the country and has average only 6 points against them per game this year. The LSU defense is lead by defnesive lineman Glenn Dorsey and linebacker Ali Highsmith. Dorsey is force in the front four and causes problems not only in the run game, but also rushing the passer. Highsmith has had some big games against the Gators before and don't be surprised if he is spying on Tebow all day to make sure he cannot get off any big runs. Tebow has been able to run at will against most teams this year, but if Highsmith is spying him, he will find it very difficult to get big chunks of yards in the run game.
The offensive line, which Urban Meyer had said he did not feel comfortable running behind will need to step up against the nations #1 run defense. The Gators leading rusher is Tebow and that cannot continue to happen. They will need starting running back Kestahn Moore to get some chunks on the ground and get pressure off of Tebow and Percy Harvin. The Gators have not committed to the run game this season, but will need to make a concerted effort this week if they want to win. LSU does not let people run on them and it will be difficult to do, but keeping the LSU defense honest will be a big part of the game.
The passing game under Tebow has been very good so far this year, but he needs to start getting others involved in the offense. It was obvious in the Auburn game that Percy Harvin was his primary target on almost every play and if he was covered than Tebow tried to run for it. Andre Caldwell has said he is healthy and ready to go, which will be a huge boost for the Gators in the passing game. Caldwell will give Tebow a veteran wide out that he can trust will make the big play for him when it is their. Even with Caldwell back the other wide outs will need to step up and make plays. These guys gave talent, but have not used it in the games so far. It is time that guys like Riley Cooper, Louis Murphy, and Jared Fayson step up an make an impact. The Tigers secondary is very sting and has 10 interceptions on the year. If Tebow is locking on to one guy they will read it and pick him off all game long.
UF Defense v. LSU Offense
The LSU offense has not been as dominant as it was supposed to be under senior quarterback Matt Flynn. Flynn only has 3 touchdowns through the air this year to his 2 interceptions. He has yet to have his big game yet, but it was in a big game in the Peach Bowl that he came out to show he was a good quarterback. Flynn's problems through the air are most likely related to losing his best wide out, Early Doucet, for the last three games. It is unclear if Docuet is able to play this week, but if he is not it will be a big boost for the Gators. The Gator secondary has been abused for two weeks in row by Ole Miss and Auburn. There are clear holes in their zone and they can be beat in man to man coverage as well. If the Gators do not get pressure on Flynn he will be able to pick this defense apart just like Brandon Cox did last week. The Gators are getting a boost to the secondary with the return of Markihe Anderson to the corner position. He had a great interception in the Tennesee game before going out with an injury. If he is healthy this could be a great boost to the Gator secondary.
The LSU running game versus the Gator rush defense will be a great match up to watch. The Gators defense has been bad, but the run defense has been great all year long. They have only given up 63 yards per game on the ground, including a 2.2 average per rush. The Tigers have a trio of backs in Hester, Williams, and Holliday that have accounted for 700 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season. LSU second string quarterback Ryan Perrilloux also has a great running ability and you will see him used much like the Gators used Tebow last season. It will be key for the Gators to stop the run game and make Flynn beat them through the air. Although the secondary is beatable, it is the Gators best chance to win if they can stop these running backs. The Gators did get a boost today when the charges were dropped against Senior safety Tony Joiner. Joiner is a huge player in the run defense and would have been severely missed if he was not able to play.
Both teams have a lot riding on this game and it will be a hard fought game for 60 minutes. The difference in this game will be the Gator defense, which has been terrible most of the season. If the Gators young players can step up and make plays they can keep it close, but if they don't it will be a long day for the Gator Nation. Death Valley will be rocking and it will be hard for a team that has players who have only had one road trip, two weeks ago at Ole Miss. This is a night game, in one of the toughest stadiums, SEC conference game, against the best team in the country. Things do not look good for the Gators and while I wish I could say I think they will win, I just don't see it.
Final Score: LSU 17 UF 10