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Florida vs LSU, Prediction Pick, 2009

10.08.2009 · Posted in Uncategorized
Florida vs LSU, Prediction Pick, 2009
Is this, in fact, the biggest game of 2009? According to the rankings it is, as these are the two highest-ranked teams to play this year.
Yet this game has no real implications in the SEC races, since (4) LSU and (1) Florida are in different divisions. While a loss could hurt either’s chances of winning their respective divisions, they could play again in the SEC championship game. So we may learn nothing Saturday night other than: 1. It’s still loud in Baton Rouge during night games and 2. The winning team was better than the losing team on October 10, 2009.

If Florida wins, this game doesn’t matter because we expect them to and LSU hasn’t been playing very well anyway. Worse, even if they lose, Florida fans can say Tim Tebow didn’t play, or was playing hurt two weeks after a bad concussion. Thus, do BCS voters take that into account when ranking Florida if they lose on Saturday?

This could cause BCS chaos, people! Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!

The key matchup isn’t Florida’s offense against LSU’s defense. It’s whether LSU’s offense can get away with doing just enough not to lose again against Florida’s defense. The Gators don’t suck on that side of the ball like, say, everyone else LSU has played.

The Tigers’ offense has shown all the hallmarks of having a quarterback who just isn’t ready to manage a game yet. LSU is almost totally ineffective in the red zone, can’t get its running backs going because opposing defenses know to stop them first and has made a few plays through the air, but missed a lot of them too. Make no mistake, Jordan Jefferson is going to figure it out any day now, but he hasn’t yet, and that’s not a good sign for Saturday.

Here’s how the Tigers can win: I’ll admit it’s kind of obvious, but either Keiland Williams or Charles Scott is going to have to step up, along with the offensive line. Not because they’re the key (obviously Gary Crowton’s sparing use of his two stud backs so far shows they aren’t), but because it will open things up for the real playmakers: Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver. Those guys can beat Florida’s DB’s and cause all kinds of hell for Florida’s defense. That is, if Jefferson can find them consistently.

Frankly, it’s more likely they’ll get open than Florida’s defense suddenly letting Scott and Williams waltz through the front seven like they’re Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson before he cut two people’s heads off.

OK, OK, fine. Let’s talk about Tebow and Florida’s offense. LSU happens to be the best defense Florida has faced. And if John Brantley is in there instead of Tebow, it’s going to¬† be a massive disruption to Florida’s running game because it relies so heavily on Tebow or the threat of Tebow. He’s like a nuclear missile. The threat of him is nearly as scary as actually using him.
Don’t forget that Urban Meyer’s offense worked with a less-athletic quarterback (Alex Smith) and they won a national championship with Chris Leak taking the majority of the snaps, so Brantley might actually enhance things both on the ground and through the air. Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey are going to have to be huge though and Florida’s going to need to find a fullback for at least one game.

Notice how I didn’t mention any of the receivers because they might as well have been anonymous through the first five weeks of this season. I wonder if Tebow even knew their names before the concussion, because he certainly doesn’t now.

Look, even with a foggy Tim Tebow or a full-strength John Brantley, Florida is better than LSU at almost every position, in virtually every matchup and in all three phases of the game. LSU’s only shot is a hall-of-fame defensive effort, a crowd on par with Ohio State fans at this year’s USC game and efficiency on offense that hasn’t been displayed yet. Doesn’t look good, does it?

Florida is a seven point favorite at the moment, and given all the issues surrounding their personnel, it’s hard to see them covering, though they should still beat LSU.

My prediction: both teams start slow and LSU actually takes an early lead. Florida then proceeds to suck the life out of the stadium by matriculating the ball down the field, playing solid defense the rest of the way, and winning a close game. Florida wins but doesn’t cover the seven points.

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