The Tigers will be making the trip to “The Swamp” for the second straight season after the 2016 game was moved to Baton Rouge due to Hurricane Matthew.
While the Florida Gators may lead the all-time head-to-head matchup, fifth-ranked LSU has won four out of the last five against the No. 22 Gators, including two in a row in at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
But historical trends mean nothing when it comes to these two schools. This is annually one of the hardest hitting and most competitive games on the SEC schedule. Since 2008, LSU leads the series six games to four and has outscored Florida 213-211.
It doesn’t get much closer than that.
“The guys are fired up and ready to play,” said LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron at his Thursday press conference. “We want to make sure that we explode at 3:30 PM Eastern Standard Time. I know it’s going to be a battle. This is a rivalry game. It’s been a heated match-up, we understand that.”
Add in the fact that the two teams possess dominant defenses, and this Saturday looks like an old-fashioned battle in the trenches.
Just as LSU was starting to open up its pass offense, quarterback Joe Burrow and his makeshift offensive line will have to face a Gator defensive unit only allowing 140 yards through the air per game. Opposing passers are completing less than 50 percent of their attempts against Florida, a threshold Burrow didn’t cross until last Saturday.
And just as Tiger Stadium is “where dreams go to die,” Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is one of the toughest venues for visitors in college football. That’s true for most of the SEC, but LSU has prepared for the Florida faithful.
“We had the ‘gator chomp’ playing (during practice), We’re prepared for the crowd noise.” — Ed Orgeron
The Tigers will have to be prepared to run the football as well. Florida ranks 12th in the SEC in rushing yards allowed per game (172.6), and 10th in yards per carry (4.1). Against Mississippi, LSU rushed for a season-high 281 yards on 50 attempts, with eight different players carrying the ball at least once.
Controlling the clock and protecting the football will play big parts in deciding the winner of this one. After starting the season turnover-free, the Tigers have committed three in their last two games.
Kicker Cole Tracy may have to come up big in this game down the stretch as well.
LSU has faced a number of challenges already this season to get to 5-0, and each victory has given this young Tiger team more and more confidence. The Tigers continue to use the doubt of the football world to fuel themselves, as oddsmakers have LSU as a 2.5-point underdog to the Gators heading into the weekend.
But for a team predicted to finish 6-6 by some, the Tigers have shut out the talk and are focused on the game.
“I think this team is starting to feel its potential,” Orgeron added. “They want to get it done.”