The fifth-ranked LSU Tigers (5-0) will be put to the test by the 22nd-ranked Florida Gators (4-1) in a pivotal SEC matchup on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m., CBS). The Tigers edged the Gators 17-16 in Gainesville when these two teams met in 2017. LSU has been tabbed as a 2.5-point favorite despite playing this game on the road. The betting total is 43.5 points.
You can bet on this game now with DraftKings sportsbook. LSU already has two ranked wins this season, as they beat Miami in their season opener before winning a 22-21 thriller over Auburn on Sept. 15. The Tigers’ offense has picked up the pace since then, amassing 38 and 45 points, respectively, in their last two games. Joe Burrow has led LSU’s attack commendably, but he’s in for a battle with Florida’s second-ranked pass stoppers. Considering Burrow has completed less than 54 percent of his passes this season, the Tigers might be best served trying to win this game on the ground.
Nick Brossette has rushed over 100 times this year, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Those are respectable numbers, but the Gators have beefed up against the run of late, allowing an average of 110 yards over their last three games. Overall, Florida’s defense is stout, as they’ve allowed just 14 points per game, good for ninth in the country. They’re also dangerous to play against, as they’re second in the nation in turnovers per game at 2.8.
The Gators lost their only game with a ranked team this year, dropping a 27-16 decision at home to the surprisingly-undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, but there’s reason to believe they can turn the tables on the Tigers after suffering a narrow loss to them last season.
Feleipe Franks, who was a freshman when these two programs met last season, has had a solid sophomore campaign. He’s completed over 57 percent of his passes, tossing 12 TDs compared to just three INTs. Franks has spread the wealth among his wideouts, finding six different targets for TDs. Florida’s offense is bolstered by a triumvirate of running backs, Jordan Scarlett, Dameon Pierce and Lamical Perine, who each have over five yards per carry. The Tiger defense has employed a “bend but don’t break” style, as they’re 12th in points per game allowed but surrender over 330 yards of offense per contest. The Gators should be able to move the ball effectively in their own building.
Both programs seem to have improved in 2018, but Florida may have the edge in this rematch with a more experienced Franks at the helm.
Prediction: Florida wins, 23-20
The play: Florida +2.5