Last meeting: LSU 30, Florida 27 (2014)
All time series: Florida, 31-27 (3 ties)
Time/TV: 7:00pm on ESPN (also streaming on WatchESPN app)
Pregame betting line: LSU, 9.5
Summer analysis and prediction: LSU 24, Florida 17
What to watch for: Kelvin Taylor has quietly come on as a great running back for the Gators with 284 yards in the last three games, but it’s been clear all week that he isn’t the main focus. Treon Harris takes over for Will Grier as he is forced to miss the remainder of the season (and possibly bits of next season) after testing positive for PEDs. But what seems to be lost on many people is that while Harris doesn’t have the natural QB skill set that Grier has, he does possess a tricky skill set to have to defend against nonetheless. He’s a true dual threat QB; he can both run and throw the ball well enough to beat LSU. But he hasn’t played since the Gators’ late escape against East Carolina. How well will he play in the biggest game and the toughest environment he’s played in yet?
Florida key to the game: Do. Not. Self. Destruct. I can see it happening in my mind as I type this, because I’m terrified this will happen repeatedly tonight. As I’ve said multiple times this week, the Gators always have that one game every year where they can’t get out of their own way and turn the ball over and commit silly penalties. It’s difficult to predict which game it will happen in, but road game in one of the nation’s toughest places to play with a new quarterback seems like as good a recipe as any for it. I truly do believe Florida is the better team from a talent and coaching perspective, but neither will matter if the Gators beat themselves.
LSU key to the game: Somebody other than Leonard Fournette has to step up for the Tigers’ offense if LSU is going to win, i.e. LSU is going to need some production out of its passing game. QB Brandon Harris will have his hands full with a ferocious Gator front and a ball hawking secondary, but he’ll need to hit some plays to receivers Malachi Dupree and Travin Dural to keep Florida from loading the box and keying in on Fournette completely.
Prediction: I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. I believe Florida is the better team. But like I’ve also said, I’m fearing a hurricane of self inflicted wounds tonight. Which in a cosmic sort of way is a good thing: if Florida has to have a game where they self destruct, let it be this game, because it means literally zero in terms of the Gators’ chances at both the SEC and national championship. If it has to happen at some point- and history has shown that it does- let it be this game. LSU 17, Florida 7