Seeking a fourth straight victory in their heated rivalry, the No. 16 LSU Tigers (6-3, 4-2 SEC) play host to the No. 23 Florida Gators (7-2, 5-2) on Saturday in a matchup of two of the nation’s top defenses.
The game was originally scheduled to take place on Oct. 8 in Gainesville, but officials postponed it due to Hurricane Matthew. Last season the Tigers claimed a 35-28 victory behind running back Leonard Fournette’s 180 rushing yards and two scores and a 16-yard fake field goal touchdown run.
Though neither team has a realistic shot of climbing the College Football Playoff rankings, the Gators, who are fifth in the nation with 13.3 points allowed and rank third in the conference in total sacks and interceptions, are hoping to build on their 20-7 victory over South Carolina to stay aheas of Georgia (4-4, 6-4) in the SEC East.
Florida forced the Gamecocks to punt or forced a turnover on nine of their first 10 possessions, making up for the offenses two fumbles in the first half and just the second interception by senior quarterback Austin Appleby this season. Appleby also threw two touchdowns, and sophomore rusher Jordan Scarlett powered the offense with a career-best 134 rushing yards off 20 attempts.
The Tigers sit just behind Florida with 24 total sacks and are sixth in the country with 13.9 points allowed, and the matchup will be bittersweet no matter the outcome as it likely marks the final home game of star back Fournette’s decorated career.
The junior became a national sensation last season and he’s widely expected to enter the NFL Draft this spring after three seasons in Death Valley. He’s presently second on the team with 803 rushing yards and eight touchdowns with sophomore back Derrius Guice barely ahead at 881 yards and nine scores.
However, Fournette’s sat out four games this season due to a nagging ankle injury, which has severely hampered his numbers and the Tigers' No. 57 ranked offense.
Interim Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron told reporters Monday that he expects Fournette to face the Gators.
"Leonard is tough," Orgeron said according to The Advocate. "I think the ankle is a little sore. If he needs a day off Tuesday, he gets a day off. … I do believe he’s going to be fine.”
Kickoff: Saturday, 1 p.m. EDT
TV Channel: SEC Network
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Betting Odds: LSU -14.5 via Bovada.lv
Prediction: LSU over Florida, 27-17