#1 LSU Tigers vs. #17 Florida Gators: Brutally Honest Game Preview

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Is there a national championship party in the cards for the Mad Hatter? The LSU Tigers are atop the poll for a second straight week after destroying Kentucky 35-7. QB Justin Jefferson, you remember him? The athlete who pummeled a guy in the parking lot of a bar called Shady’s, (this stuff just writes itself) made his season debut last Saturday after being suspended for the first four following his felony battery charges.

A grand jury reduced it to a misdemeanor last Wednesday, leading Les Miles to reinstate Jefferson as a backup to Jarrett Lee. Jefferson is looking to get more involved in the offense this week, and Miles may acquiesce. For the record, I still think  Jefferson sucks at football, sucks more at life, and the Alabama Crimson Tide is the true #1 team in the nation.

I said all these things in August, and I believe them even more strongly now.

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LSU Tigers (5-0, 2-0)

Louisiana State has knocked off three ranked opponents, all on the road this season. So they’ll feel good to be home this week. This contest is going to be their last big test before the titanic showdown with Alabama in Tuscaloosa on November 5th. Sure Auburn is decent this year, but I think they’ll take care of the other SEC Tigers and Tennessee before getting that perfectly placed bye week to get them ready for the game-of-the-century tilt versus Nick Saban’s squad.

Led by arguably the nation’s best defense, the top-ranked Tigers will likely face freshman Jeff Driskel at quarterback in place of the injured John Brantley Saturday in Baton Rouge.

“We will use Jefferson in a variety of ways,” Miles said. “At different times in the season, we will need every skill and every collective attribute of our team.

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Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1) Analysis:

The Gators could have grabbed an early foothold in the SEC East race last Saturday, but after suffering their worst home defeat since falling 36-7 to LSU in 2002, they now must deal with the fact that they may be without their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.

UF will have to improve their third down efficiency greatly if they are going to have any chance of knocking off the Bayou Bengals. They were just 4-of-14 versus the Tide last week, and that obviously will not get the job done against the nation’s top ranked team.

On the other side of the ball, the Gators need to make more defensive stops. Alabama converted 7-of-13 of their third downs in this game, and while that isn’t inordinately high, it was exacerbated by the fact that every conversion gave the Tide more opportunities to pound the ball with Richardson and Eddie Lacy, and that wore the Gator defense out quickly. The Tide held them to just 222 yards of total offense, and last week’s game, as well this one could give you a glimpse into the SEC title game in December. The East Division’s berth should still go to UF, I don’t see SC or UGA stepping up, and we know the West Division is going to the winner of the LSU-Alabama game.

Prediction to be taken with an entire truckload of salt, not a grain of salt: LSU 27, Florida 10 (2010-11 prediction record 26-13)

Brantley, who has thrown for 942 yards, 5 tds and 3 ints, had started 18 consecutive games. He gone, so now it’s Driskel’s time. The highly ranked recruit looked blah at best last week.

Driskel went 2-6 passes for 14 yards, fumbled a snap and was sacked twice as the Gators gained just two first downs with him leading the charge.

“I’ve got a lot of faith in him,” running back Chris Rainey said. “He’ll be ready to go, ready to take that challenge.”

It’s not all Driskel’s fault, as the running game has had some issues too. Don’t expect them to be solved on Saturday.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

He’s appeared on live radio shows all across the world from Houston to New Zealand. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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