LSU braces for home showdown with Florida

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Odell Beckham Jr. had a huge game against Mississippi State--catching nine balls for 179 yards and two scores. Photo by LSUsports.net.

On Saturday, we're going to find out just how good the LSU offense really is.

They're flying high right now. They're fresh off of putting up 59 against Mississippi State, and they're currently averaging 46 points a game--which ranks them ninth in the country.

Those numbers are not misleading. They're for real.

They put up 449 yards and 37 points against a very good TCU defense that just held Oklahoma to 20 in Norman. They scored more points on Georgia in Athens than Clemson did at home.

They put up more points on Auburn than anyone else has all year, and the 59 they put up on Mississippi State was highly impressive when you take in account that the Bulldogs only gave up 21 to a very good Oklahoma State offense.

However, that Tiger attack is facing a whole different animal this week. This will be the best defense they've faced all year and probably the best defensive unit they'll see the entire season.

The Gators are ranked fourth in the nation in points per game--only giving up 12 a contest. They rank second in total defense on the heels of only giving up 217 yards per game.

They are solid all the way around. They have defensive backs good enough to man up on receivers, and their front seven is almost in-penetrable against the run. They rank second in the country in rushing yards allowed with just 65 per game.

Even with defensive tackle Dominique Easley lost for the year with a knee injury, it'll still be a tall order to put up points on the Gators.

If anyone can do it, it will be LSU. They have the best offense Florida has faced all year.

Zach Mettenberger has thrown for 340 yards or better in two straight outings and has 15 touchdown passes to just two interceptions.

Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry have emerged as the most dangerous and consistent wide receiver tandem in the country. Beckham has 686 yards and six touchdowns, and Landry has 616 yards and seven scores.

On the ground, Jeremy Hill has continued to emerge as one of the nation's best runners. In four starts, he has eclipsed the 100-yard mark three times. He has nine touchdown runs and is averaging 7.5 yards a carry.

All of those gaudy numbers have allowed the Tigers to score at least 35 points in all six games this season, and the 59 they put on Mississippi State were the most points they scored in an SEC game since 1997, when they put up 63 on Kentucky.

As good as the offense has been, the defense is still desperately seeking improvement.

Although they finished the game scoring 31 straight against the Bulldogs, they gave up 26 points and 468 yards in the process. It was the third straight game where they have given up at least 437 yards.

Florida's offense is not as good as the last three the Tigers have faced, but they have shown tremendous improvement as of late.

Quarterback Tyler Murphy came in after Jeff Driskel was lost for the year with a broken leg, and he has given the Gator offense a spark.

The first-year starter is completing 72 percent of his passes and has thrown five touchdowns to just one interception. He has also proven to be a duel threat--rushing for 135 yards and two scores.

The No. 1 guy the Tigers will have to keep an eye on will be Solomon Patton. He has two 100-yard receiving efforts in the past four games and is averaging a booming 18 yards a grab.

LSU will be trying to avenge a 14-6 loss to the Gators from last year. If they want to avoid the same fate, they'll have to avoid two demoralizing key stats from that game.

In the defeat, the Tigers only rushed for a putrid 42 yards. Conversely, Florida gained 176 yards on the ground. LSU will have to be much better in both areas if they want to win Saturday's matchup.