Florida vs. LSU: Tigers Will Defend Death Valley with Prolific Offense

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2013

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers celebrates with his team after defeating the Auburn Tigers 35-21 at Tiger Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In what looks like the biggest showdown of the weekend, No. 10 LSU will knock off No. 17 Florida in Baton Rouge thanks to a prolific offense.

Week 7 has turned out to be a crucial game for both squads. Both teams enter this showdown with one loss on the season.

As of now, the next three, and four of the next five, games for Florida will be against ranked teams. The Gators lost at No. 13 Miami (FL). They are 3-0 in SEC play, so they control their own destiny. A loss in this game would likely push the Gators out of the national championship picture, but they'd still be able to reach the SEC title game.

Jeremy Hill provides balance on offense.
Jeremy Hill provides balance on offense.Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

On the other side, LSU already lost in Athens to then-No. 9 Georgia. It was a three-point loss, so voters haven't punished the Tigers for a narrow road loss to a top team. However, that loss puts them at 2-1 in conference play. LSU still has No. 1 Alabama and No. 9 Texas A&M, so it still has plenty of challenges ahead. A loss in this game would likely put them out of contention for a conference championship, which would also mean no BCS title game.

Neither team can afford to lose this game. Whoever loses will need a lot of help to get back in contention.

Luckily for the Tigers, this game will be in Death Valley. Their only home loss since the middle of the 2009 season came against No. 1 Alabama last season. Florida's last win at Tiger Stadium came back in 2009.

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The Gators overcame a 6-0 deficit in the second half to pull away with a 14-6 victory over LSU in Gainesville last season. It was one of only three times the Tigers were held to fewer than 20 points in 2012.

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 31:  Zach Mettenberger #8 of the LSU Tigers throws against the TCU Horned Frogs at AT&T Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Now, LSU is led by an experienced quarterback. Senior Zach Mettenberger has a year of experience under his belt, and he has put up strong numbers this season. His 1,738 passing yards are the most in the SEC. Mettenberger's 15 touchdowns rank sixth in the nation, behind players like Jameis Winston and Teddy Bridgewater.

Last year's game was Mettenberger's first real test in the SEC. He didn't have a great game, but he has developed into a much better quarterback since then.

The senior has been terrific this season. He has completed 68.2 percent of his passes and thrown only two interceptions. His interception total is tied for the fewest among SEC quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. Neither player he is tied with has more than four touchdowns.

Mettenberger is the leader, but the Tigers have a balanced offense. They have averaged 291.5 passing yards and 197.2 rushing yards per game. LSU has averaged 45.5 points per game this season and has been held under 40 only once in its last five games.

Odell Beckham has been a terrific target for Mettenberger.
Odell Beckham has been a terrific target for Mettenberger.Stacy Revere/Getty Images

There are also playmakers around the quarterback on offense. Sophomore Jeremy Hill has run for 593 yards and nine touchdowns on 79 carries, which comes to 7.5 yards per carry. Juniors Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are big threats on the outside. Beckham has 686 receiving yards with six touchdowns, and Landry has added 616 yards with seven scores.  

LSU has plenty of playmakers who can help Mettenberger move the football.

The defense has allowed 24.7 points per game, so the offense has won games.

Florida is averaging only 25 points through five games, but its defense has allowed only 12.2 points per game, which ranks fourth in the nation. 

Since Mettenberger took over, the Tigers have averaged 39.7 points per game at home. Florida's defense may be stout, but Death Valley is the toughest place for an opponent to play. 

Thanks to an experienced quarterback who can put up a lot of points, LSU will defend its home turf and stay in the national championship picture with a big win over Florida.

*All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com


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