Saturday, December 12, 2020, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida, 7 p.m. ET
Tigers at Gators Betting Preview: Tigers (+22), Gators (-22)
No repeat championship is possible for LSU (3-5, 3-5 Southeastern Conference), but a win or two in the next couple of games could land the Tigers a bowl bid and give coach Ed Orgeron’s young Tigers valuable playing time.
“Another chance to compete, another chance for young players to get better, more practice time,” he said.’
A week ago against No. 1 Alabama, 33 of the 55 players that LSU put on the field were underclassmen, and 19 true freshmen have seen playing time for the Tigers. The Tigers lost 55-17 to the Tide but Orgeron put a positive spin on the beatdown.
“I was pleased the offense scored 17 points,” he said. “We missed that fourth-and-short going in to tie the game 7-7. Could have been a difference in the ballgame very early. We didn’t get that done. We have to improve on that stuff. I thought overall offensively we made some improvements in some areas.”
LSU has used a number of quarterbacks this year. Its current depth chart contains the word “or” a lot, as in it will be either TJ Finley “or” Max Johnson to start.
Finley has completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 188.2 yards a game in five appearances. Johnson has played in four games, completing 60.3 percent of his attempts for 98.8 yards a game.
More “or” words appear up and down the two-deep.
A wave of players opting out — including top receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. and, possibly, tight end Arik Gilbert — have introduced “nor” into the conversation.
No. 6 Florida’s hopes for a national championship ride on some team near the top of the College Football Playoff rankings slipping up over the final two weeks of the season.
Coach Dan Mullen knows that unless his Gators (8-1, 8-1 SEC) play up to their capabilities, the team slipping up just could be his own — especially this weekend against LSU.
Never mind LSU’s record this season, Mullen warned. The Tigers are loaded with young talent and can explode against any team that overlooks them.
“They’ve got a lot of talent,” Mullen said. “They put up a lot of points. They’ve lost a lot of guys, so they’re a young team.”
LSU has some playmakers and mismatches on offense from the running backs, Mullen said.
“Different wideouts that can cause you issues,” he said. “Defensively, they got DBs that can cover on the back end and a big physical group up front.”
Mullen is aware that his team has been far from perfect, especially after last week’s game when unranked Tennessee threw a bit of a scare at the Gators during Florida’s 31-19 victory.
“We’ve just got to execute better,” Mullen said. “It’s not to say we weren’t very good. I think we missed a lot of opportunities last week. I think we had three possessions start on the plus side of the field with zero points. We should be 100 percent on that. I think we left 21 points on the field.”
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask has established himself as a legitimate Heisman candidate in passing for 3,243 yards for 38 touchdowns with just three interceptions. LSU coach Ed Orgeron credits Mullen for “finding” Trask.
“He’s a diamond in the rough,” Orgeron said of Trask. “I think you look at 38 touchdowns to three interceptions. The way he operates, the way he finds the guys. Dan is a great gameday caller. He knows exactly what to do with his quarterback. I think it’s a combination of a great quarterback and a great caller.”
Tigers at Gators Betting Pick for December 12, 2020
The Gators lead the series 33-30-3 but the Tigers have won seven of the last 10 meetings, including last year by a 42-28 score in Baton Rouge. The Tigers also have won three of the last five meetings in Gainesville.
Tigers at Gators Betting Pick:
Gators 31, Tigers 17
Tigers at Gators Best Bet for December 12, 2020
Despite the two-touchdown defeat in last year’s loss to LSU, Trask passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns for the Gators against the Tigers last year with Kyle Pitts catching five passes for 108 yards. Trask is coming off a 433-yard passing performance in the Gators’ win over Tennessee last week while the Tigers managed only 352 yards of total offense in a 55-17 loss to Alabama.
Tigers at Gators Best Bet: UNDER 67