LSU Hope a Victory Over Florida Lets Them Crash the College Football Playoff Party
There has been a steady rumbling emanating from Baton Rouge in recent weeks that could become louder than LSU coach Ed Orgeron’s distinctive bullfrog-like voice.
Led by quarterback Joe Burrow, the Tigers (#5 AP/6 USA Today) have emerged – for the moment at least – to potentially be the team that gate-crashes the College Football Playoff and replaces one of the perennials among Clemson, Alabama, and Oklahoma. The Tigers get the chance to burnish their credentials to a national audience Saturday night when they host Florida (#7/#7) in a cross-division clash that also arguably serves as a de facto elimination game for the College Football Playoff chase.
Burrow, who came to LSU last season after transferring from Ohio State, has garnered Heisman attention as the Tigers – who are 13-point favorites at -110 and a -510 favorite on the money line according to the FanDuel Sports Book — seek their first 6-0 start since 2015. He leads the nation in completion percentage (78.4) and is tied for second with 22 touchdown passes while throwing for 1,864 yards. The Tigers lead the country in scoring at 54.6 points per game and are second in the nation in total offense at 571 yards per contest.
LSU also already has one high-profile victory to its credit, a 45-38 victory at then-No. 9 Texas on Sept. 7 when Burrow threw for 471 yards and four touchdowns while outgunning fellow Heisman hopeful Sam Ehlinger. Burrow has a trio of targets he enjoys throwing to as Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, and Terrace Marshall Jr. have combined for 73 catches, 1,302 yards, and 19 touchdowns.
Jefferson and Chase are the only FBS teammates averaging better than 100 receiving yards per game, and Jefferson ranks seventh in the nation with 547 yards.
The Gators are Looking for Back-to-Back Top 10 Victories as They Visit the Tigers
The Gators – who are 13-point underdogs at -110 and +380 on the money line — are seeking their first 7-0 start since 2012 as they also look to maintain their one-half game lead over Georgia in the East Division. Kyle Trask proved to be more than a caretaker quarterback in helping Florida knock then-No. 7 Auburn from the ranks of the unbeaten last weekend in a 24-13 win, throwing two first-half touchdown passes.
Lamical Perrine sealed the victory with an 88-yard punt return for a touchdown with 9:04 to play as Florida’s defense also rose to the occasion and limited Auburn to 269 yards while intercepting freshman quarterback Bo Nix three times and recording four takeaways.
Trask has thrown for 736 yards and six touchdowns in three starts since replacing the injured Feleipe Franks at quarterback as he looks to help Florida beat AP Top 10 opponents in back-to-back weeks for the first time since defeating then-No. 1 Alabama and second-ranked Oklahoma to win the 2009 national title.
History, though, is against the Gators in this instance. Of the previous 12 teams to pull off a home upset over a ranked team and then win as an underdog on the road the following week was the 2014 Ole Miss team that defeated Texas A&M after stunning Alabama.
Florida knocked a top-five LSU from the unbeatens last year, recording a 27-19 victory in “The Swamp” in Gainesville as it held Burrow to 192 passing yards while intercepting him twice. Perine gave the Gators the lead for good with a 2-yard scoring run midway through the fourth quarter, and Brad Stewart sealed the win with a pick-six of Burrow with 1:45 to play.
The Tigers have won five of their last seven at home versus Florida but dropped the most recent matchup there 16-10 in 2016.