BATON ROUGE, La. – No. 6 LSU and No. 7 Florida both have plans to reach the College Football Playoff this season and taking a loss this week is not part of the equation. One team will be forced to alter its plans after Saturday night, when the Gators visit the Tigers in Baton Rouge. La.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: LSU -13.5
LSU hopes to make it through the SEC West gauntlet, which includes No. 1 Alabama, while Florida is forcing its way through the East, which includes No. 3 Georgia, and announced itself as a major contender by knocking off Auburn 24-13 last week. "One of the great challenges in this league is it's not the one game, it's the multiple games in this league," Gators coach Dan Mullen told reporters. "That's always the challenge, and that's not true in every league. A lot of times you don't have these types of games in every league, where you have consecutive weeks playing top seven opponents. That's one of the great challenges in this league, one of the fun parts about being here. It's why you want to be part of the SEC." Florida represents the most difficult defensive test yet for LSU, which is leading FBS in scoring average at 54.6 points while ranking second in average passing yards (416) behind Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Burrow. "This is by far the best pass rush we have seen," Tigers coach Ed Orgeron told reporters of Florida. "I think I've said it every day in our press conference that I can, that we're going to be tested and this is just what I was talking about. I watched the game against Miami. It was a tremendous pass rush. Last year we did not block their pass rush very well. It's going to be a challenge for us."
ABOUT FLORIDA (6-0, 3-0 SEC)
The Gators lead the SEC and rank fifth nationally in scoring defense, yielding an average of 9.5 points, and are limiting opposing passers to an average of 183.3 yards after holding Auburn quarterback Bo Nix to 145 yards while forcing three interceptions in last week's win. "We're going to prepare how we always do," safety Donovan Stiner told the school's sports website of facing the LSU offense. "We see it as another challenge that we have to face this week and I feel like we're all looking forward and we're all excited about it." Quarterback Kyle Trask, who did not throw an interception in either of the last two contests and is completing 72.2 percent of his passes, can help the defense by continuing to play mistake-free on the offensive side.
ABOUT LSU (5-0, 1-0)
Burrow enters the week second in FBS in passing yards (1,864) and tied for second in passing touchdowns (22) while leading in completion percentage (78.4). "I think Joe Burrow is the perfect quarterback for us at this point in time," Orgeron told reporters. "He's smart, he's a champ, he's going to stay in the pocket, he's going to take a hit. And we got outstanding receivers." The Tigers' top trio of receivers rivals any in the country with Justin Jefferson (30 catches, 547 yards, seven TDs), Ja'Marr Chase (23, 451, six) and Terrace Marshall Jr. (20, 304, six) battling each other for Burrow's attention every week.
1. LSU's 273 points are the most in SEC history through the first five games.
2. The Gators lead FBS with 19 takeaways - 12 interceptions.
3. Burrow was held to 192 yards and intercepted twice in the Tigers' 27-19 loss at Florida last season.
PREDICTION: LSU 35, Florida 17