Saturday night inside Tiger Stadium, No. 5 LSU begins the most difficult portion of its schedule against No. 7 Florida. These are staff writer Wilson Alexander's keys to the game for LSU.
1. Hold the line
Success in the Southeastern Conference — and college football as a whole — begins on the line of scrimmage. LSU’s offensive line got beat during the Tigers’ 27-19 loss to Florida last season. And though LSU’s offensive line has improved, the Gators are again strong on the defensive front with 26 sacks and 50 tackles for loss through six games. LSU’s offense requires its linemen to win one-on-one matchups. The Tigers have to this week.
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2. Balanced attack
Coach Ed Orgeron has said for months he wants LSU’s offense to have a “50/50” split between runs and passes. The passing attack defined LSU’s first four games, but against Utah State last weekend, the Tigers ran the football early to set the pace of the game. Against the best SEC teams, especially Florida, it will have to maintain an effective running game. Otherwise, the Gators can rush the passer with reckless abandon.
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3. Avoid turnovers
Florida has forced 17 turnovers this season, the most in the country. The Gators have a mediocre offense — their 424.3 yards per game ranks 61st nationally — but takeaways provide support. The Gators forced four turnovers during their 11-point win over Auburn last weekend. Three were interceptions, giving Florida a nation-leading 12 picks this season. Turnovers create upsets. Last year, LSU’s loss ended with an interception. Protect the football.
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4. Can't forget Freddie
Statistically, Florida does not have an elite wide receiver. None of them have cracked the top 100 nationally in yards. But LSU cannot ignore senior Freddie Swain’s production against Auburn. Swain had the best game of his career last weekend, catching six passes for 146 yards and one touchdown. His 64-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter gave Florida the lead. Swain had never eclipsed 100 yards receiving. He now has 301 receiving yards this season.