Three that Matter - Gators Become Tiger Bait

By John Harris
October 7, 2011

WIll Muschamp will have his hands full this weekend in Baton Rouge with #1 LSU.

Florida at LSU

A couple of weeks ago this matchup had a little bit of intrigue.  We didn’t exactly know what we had in the Florida Gators after Florida hammered Tennessee in the Swamp, which amped up the intrigue tenfold for the Will Muschamp-led Gators.  Then, LSU dropped West Virginia with a couple of haymakers and this one had some spice.  But, since then, the Gators were exposed as a team perhaps one year away by the Alabama Crimson Tide.

QB John Brantley went out of the game with a high ankle sprain and will miss the visit to Baton Rouge, leaving the offense in the hands of hotshot 5-star freshman Jeff Driskel.  When Driskel came into the game on Saturday, it was more than evident that he wasn’t ready for the “pressure” that Alabama was administering on Saturday night.  Now, with a week to prepare, Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will have packages that Driskel is comfortable with using, but he’s also facing one of the two best defenses in the nation.

The Tigers run so darn well and will force Driskel into too many unfortunate mistakes.  The LSU offense, though, has been a mild surprise, especially with the way that Jarrett Lee has played at quarterback.  I’m interested to see how things transpire now that Jordan Jefferson is back in the fold.  He got a few snaps last week against Kentucky when LSU could afford to “experiment” at the position, so to speak.  A team with this type defense should be able to overcome any sort of QB situation, but it still can rip a team apart.

That said, I don’t expect Florida to be the team exploits the Tigers, if that is possible this season. Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and the running game will take over in the second half and finish off Florida’s rough two week stretch.

LSU - 34 vs. Florida - 16

Auburn at Arkansas

At the outset of the season, I didn’t think this game had much in the way of sexiness but I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong and, well, let’s just say I’m wrong…but only because there are no other games this weekend worthy of grabbing attention.  No, I’m just kidding - I was wrong, this one has been made much more interesting by the two upsets that took place last weekend.

No one gave Auburn much of a shot going to Columbia and picking off the Gamecocks, but not only did the Tigers do just that, the defense shut down Marcus Lattimore, holding him to 66 yards and less than four yards per carry.  That was perhaps a bigger surprise than the Tigers winning the game and it’s progress that most Auburn fans were looking for throughout the season.

In Arlington, Arkansas trailed Texas A&M by 18 at halftime, but fought back behind Tyler Wilson’s 510 yards in the air and Jarius Wright’s 281 yards receiving to beat #14 Texas A&M 42-38.  Neither team will win the SEC West, but Auburn still has a shot with LSU and Alabama still ahead on the schedule.

However, it loses any chance to repeat, more than likely with a loss at Arkansas.  The key in this game is going to be whether Auburn’s front four can get any heat on Wilson.  If Wilson is allowed to find a rhythm, he’ll light up the Tigers’ secondary like a Christmas tree.  South Carolina didn’t have the passing game to challenge the Auburn defense the way Arkansas and Wilson will.  Auburn’s running game will dominate the ball and the Auburn offense was the best 12th defender the Tiger defense could hope to have.

That all said, I don’t think Auburn can hang in this heavyweight battle as Wilson will have a strong 325+ yard game and makes this one a pseudo-shootout at home.  Pig Sooey, Razorback.

Arkansas - 41 vs. Auburn - 33

Ohio State at Nebraska

Imagine…Terrelle Pryor still taking snaps for the Buckeyes and Boom Herron, one of the best running backs in the Big Ten, toting the rock for OSU.  Imagine… the “real” Blackshirts were still in Lincoln.  Imagine…Taylor Martinez throwing the ball like Aaron Rodgers.  Imagine…an Ohio State offense capable of scoring more than seven points in a game.

Now, erase all those thoughts from your existence and prepare yourself for a matchup of two Big Ten teams on the brink of extinction (for the 2011 season) buckling down to get a much needed win.  Let’s just start by saying this matchup will be ugly, desparate and competitive.  The Buckeyes will still be without Herron and Devier Posey, but they’ll get All-Big Ten tackle Mike Adams back for the game.

The quarterback “problem” is still a without a definitive answer.  Braxton Miller started last week, but was relieved by senior Joe Bauserman who completed a pass for Ohio State’s only touchdown in a 10-7 loss to Michigan State.  Nebraska knows who its quarterback is, but Martinez had a miserable three series stretch against the Wisconsin Badgers, throwing three picks on those drives, each one led to a Wisconsin touchdown.

Teams have been able to run the ball on the Nebraska defense and those teams have run it well.  Ohio State’s only shot at winning this game is to pound the rock 45 to 50 times and win a game 13-12 or 14-10.  That’s it, that’s the only way it can win.  So, expect Nebraska’s front seven to step up and make plays against the run, perhaps with the help of an eighth defender (safety help) to slow down the OSU run attack.  Simply put, if Martinez doesn’t keep Ohio State in the game, the Huskers have too much firepower for the Buckeyes to stop for a full 60 minutes, especially if the Buckeyes can’t generate more than 28 minutes of time of possession.

Nebraska - 24 vs. Ohio State - 13