One week after beating one top-10 team, the no. 7 Florida Gators will try to do it again when they take on the no. 5 LSU Tigers. Game time is at 8:00 EST on Saturday, October 12 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Fans can catch all of the action on ESPN.
Based on the Week 7 college football odds, LSU favored by 13 points at home. The over/under for the game is set at 54.5 points.
The Gators are officially contenders in the SEC East and the College Football Playoff after last week’s win over Auburn. Florida was actually a home underdog in the game, but the Gators were dominant defensively, pitching a shutout in the second half and forcing four turnovers to help make up for the four turnovers committed by the Florida offense. With wins over the likes of Miami, Kentucky, and Tennessee, the Gators are now 6-0 overall and 3-0 in SEC play.
Unfortunately for Florida, beating Auburn was only the start of a difficult stretch of games. The Gators still have road games against LSU, South Carolina, and Missouri, not to mention their neutral-site clash with Georgia in early November. Florida should be able to absorb one loss and keep their SEC title hopes alive, but the more top-10 wins they get, the more leeway they get, making Saturday’s trip to Baton Rouge more of an opportunity than a must-win game.
Meanwhile, the Bayou Bengals are also unbeaten at 5-0. LSU is fresh off a convincing 42-6 win over Utah State last week. They also have a road win over Texas on their resume, which is the biggest reason why they’re ranked in the top-5.
Of course, LSU’s only SEC game this season was a win against Vanderbilt. Now is the time when their schedule starts to increase in difficulty. The Tigers will host both Florida and Auburn before the end of October. They also have showdowns with Alabama and Texas A&M in November. Much like Florida, the Tigers can probably absorb one loss and stay in the CFP conversation. But with so many difficult games still ahead of them, a win on Saturday would be massive for their chances, not to mention their confidence.
Despite being in different divisions, Florida and LSU meet every year, and in terms of entertainment value, they rarely disappoint. The Gators have won two of the last three years, including a win in Baton Rouge in 2016. However, LSU has won six of the last nine meetings, getting the better of Florida during the current decade. When these two teams met as top-25 teams last October, no. 22 Florida beat no. 5 LSU 27-19.
Historically, few road teams walk out of Tiger Stadium with a win. But I think the Gators deserve a little more respect than to be 13-point underdogs. Florida has found different ways to win games this season, and while I wouldn’t bet on them winning straight up, I have to think that they’ll find a way to make this game close. I’ll gladly take the Gators and the 13 points.
I’ll admit to being a little skeptical of Florida quarterback Kyle Trask ahead of last week’s game. But he handled himself well against a top-notch Auburn defense. He even got hurt and went to the locker room at one point but returned to finish the game. Trask may be a little short on experience, so facing LSU on the road will be a new experience for him. But he’s earned a lot of respect and credibility from his teammates over the past few weeks. There’s no doubt that Trask will face some adversity at some point in this game, but I think he’ll be able to respond accordingly to it.
We should also keep in mind that the LSU defense hasn’t been perfect this season. They gave up plenty of big plays during their win over Texas. The Tigers didn’t exactly clamp down on Vanderbilt either. They gave up some explosive plays in that game as well. While I don’t think Trask and the Florida offense will be running circles around the LSU defense, I think they’ll do enough to keep the game close.
On the other side of the ball, I expect the Florida defense to keep the Gators within striking distance. They’ve allowed just 37 points over their three SEC games. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve forced four turnovers in each of those three games. Admittedly, LSU is the best offensive team they’ve played this season. But the Florida defense is no fluke. There’s something to be said about a team that can create takeaways with that kind of regularity. They’ve also done a nice job of slowing down the running game. Despite how well Joe Burrow has played at quarterback, if the Tigers aren’t running the ball effectively, they won’t be running up the score.
All things considered, I don’t feel comfortable eating this many points. If the spread were less than a touchdown, I’d probably feel safe taking LSU. But the Florida defense is good and the offense is far from helpless. I have a hard time seeing the Gators rolling over and losing by two touchdowns, so I’ll take Florida to beat the spread, even in a loss.