LSU looking to win home finale against Gators

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Derrius Guice's 252 yards sparked a 390-yard effort on the ground for LSU against Arkansas. Photo by LSUsports.net.

LSU might have lost to Alabama for a sixth straight time, but they made sure there wouldn’t be another hangover following the defeat.

After only being able to produce a grand total of 125 yards, six first downs and zero points against the Tide, the Tiger offense bounced back from the onset against Arkansas—leading to a dominating 38-10 victory over the 25th-ranked Razorbacks.

LSU racked up 23 first downs and 547 yards in the win. This included a 252-yard effort from running back Derrius Guice—which ranked as the second-highest single-game rushing total in school history, only behind the 284-yard effort from Leonard Fournette earlier this year against Ole Miss.

Guice’s 96-yard run to close the scoring for the Tigers was the longest offensive play in LSU history.

The defense continued to impress as they held Arkansas to just 10 points and 291 total yards. The 10-point performance was the second-to-lowest offensive output for the Razorbacks this season.

Arkansas was held to just 81 rushing yards, and quarterback Austin Allen was picked off twice.

Through nine games, the LSU defense has only allowed 10 touchdowns. They’re only surrendering 14 points per contest.

Now, a matchup with Florida that is more than a month in the making awaits.

The game was originally scheduled for Oct. 8, but due to the effects of Hurricane Matthew, the game was postponed. This postponement came to the displeasure of many Tiger fans after LSU offered to play the game as late as Monday.

With the teams not sharing a bye, rescheduling the contest became very tricky.

Florida wanted LSU to cancel their Nov. 19 non-conference clash with South Alabama, but Athletic Director Joe Alleva drew a line in the sand and refused to play an away game that weekend.

Playing on the road would have resulted in millions of dollars in revenue lost for a struggling Baton Rouge economy, and it would have forced LSU to play in three straight SEC road games in the span of 12 days.

To Florida’s angst, they agreed to play the game in Baton Rouge.

The noon matchup in Tiger Stadium will carry serious implications for each team.

Florida can clinch the SEC Eastern Division with a victory, while LSU can come one win closer to a possible Sugar Bowl bid.

Another interesting storyline heading into the game will be the matchup at quarterback. Both starting starters were at one time teammates at Purdue.

Florida’s Austin Appleby once shared snaps with LSU’s Danny Etling. Now, they’ll face off in a key SEC tussle.

Appleby is replacing Gator starter Luke Del Rio—who is still out after sustaining a shoulder injury against Arkansas. He has been solid in relief efforts this season—completing 66 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Florida’s most dangerous weapon is Antonio Callaway. Callaway is averaging 15 yards per catch and is also a superb kick returner. He returned a punt for a touchdown in last year’s thriller in Baton Rouge.

Lack of a running game has hindered the Gator offense throughout the season. In the loss to Arkansas, they were only able to muster 12 rushing yards.

Though, Jordan Scarlett rebounded with a 134-yard effort last week against South Carolina. He has 617 yards for the season.

With Florida’s struggles on offense, the defense has often took control of games. They’re one of the top units in the country.

They’re only giving up 13 points per game and rank 12th against the run.

Their secondary is one of the best in the nation. They rank No. 3 against the pass—only yielding 155 yards per contest.

The good news for LSU is that Florida will be without many of their defensive starters on Saturday. The Gators will be down one starting defensive lineman, two linebackers and one defensive back due to injuries.

Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone and Marcus Maye—their three leading tacklers—are all out for the game.

Florida will also be down one offensive lineman.

Overall, the Tigers are healthy heading into Saturday. Though, Fournette was hobbled in the Arkansas game—limiting him to just 17 carries.

Interim head coach Ed Orgeron said that he expects him to be ready for the Gators.

“Leonard is tough. I think the ankle is a little sore. The guy rolled up on him,” Orgeron said. “I think he’s going to bounce back. I do believe he’s going to be fine.