The Swamp in Gainesville, Florida, has a way of separating the contenders from the pretenders. Therefore, consider this weekend Separation Saturday.
The fourth-ranked LSU Tigers, a perfect 5-0 on the season but a team that has dropped a spot in each of the past two AP polls, visits The Swamp for a top 10 clash against the surging tenth-ranked Florida Gators. The matchup features the two winningest teams in the SEC over the past 10 seasons. LSU has the best record in the league during that span (102-22, .823), while the Gators are 91-31 (.746) since 2003.
Saturday afternoon’s contest also marks the beginning of the teeth of the SEC schedule for both programs. LSU must find a way to get its offense back on track against a salty Florida defensive unit. The Gators rank tenth in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 12.75 points per game. That isn’t an encouraging statistic for an LSU offense that has struggled to put opponents away in back-to-back weeks at Auburn and against Towson State. LSU has also faced a steady does of attrition since the start of fall camp, losing its Heisman Trophy candidate defensive back, its starting outside linebacker, its starting left tackle, its starting tailback, and now its starting fullback in JC Copeland. Without Copeland, LSU will have to convert its power rushing attack into more of a pass-first approach. Can QB Zach Mettenberger, making just his second career road start, handle that pressure?
While the Tigers have been treading water, Florida has been on the rise, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Three of Florida’s next four games are against teams currently ranked in the top 10, starting with the Tigers this weekend. QB Jeff Driskel has stepped up as the Gators’ unquestioned leader following a less-than-stellar fall camp. Driskel has the Gators’ offense moving the ball with confidence, which is quite a bonus for defensive-minded head coach Will Muschamp.
For the Gators to take the next step toward national prominence, picking off LSU will go a long way in establishing a foothold. For the Tigers, it’s all about erasing any thoughts of their pending demise.
Let the separation begin.
#4 LSU vs. #10 FLORIDA
SAT. OCT. 6 – 2:30PM / CBS
BEN HILL GRIFFIN STADIUM