Florida football: How to bet Week 7 at LSU

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 05: Tyrie Cleveland #89 of the Florida Gators is tackled by Javaris Davis #13 of the Auburn Tigers during the third quarter of a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 05, 2019 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 05: Tyrie Cleveland #89 of the Florida Gators is tackled by Javaris Davis #13 of the Auburn Tigers during the third quarter of a game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 05, 2019 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Oddsmakers currently have LSU favored by 13 points against Florida football. I recommend betting on LSU -13.

In many ways, Florida football had it predictably easy last week against Auburn. Bo Nix entered the game with a passer rating of five when facing pressure and Florida’s defense was one of the best in creating pressure.

Nix isn’t an accurate downfield passer anyways.  During the game, he missed open wide receivers on countless first downs and multiple touchdowns, not including one bobbled by his wide receiver into the hands of a defender.

Joe Burrow couldn’t be more different than Bo Nix. He has the highest PFF grade on pass attempts of at least 10 yards downfield, going 57-for-77 for 1,285 yards and 16 touchdowns. Burrow boasts the nation’s highest adjusted completion percentage.

He also enjoys the highest passer rating under pressure, the fifth-highest when the pocket is clean, fourth-highest both with and without play-action, and second-highest on deep passes.

Skeptics could say that LSU has had an easy schedule so far and that Florida’s pass defense is very good, ranking 18th nationally.

Florida Gators Football
Florida Gators Football /

Florida Gators Football

But one can apply the same train of skepticism to Florida. The Gators have faced Jarren Williams, Sawyer Smith, the benched Jarrett Guarantano, Bo Nix plus Towson and UT-Martin quarterbacks. Not exactly a group of Heisman candidates.

So let’s dig deeper. The schedule quip doesn’t apply to Burrow’s passer rating under pressure because pressure is pressure. He’s also one of the nation’s leaders in PFF big-time throws, which measures distance downfield, ball location, accuracy, and fitting into tight windows. Given these details about his accuracy, the schedule quip sounds unfair.

Burrow has plenty of high-caliber targets. Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, and Terrace Marshall Jr. each have at least 20 receptions and average over 15 YPR. Of these three, I think Chase can do the most damage. He combines sufficient blow-by speed with physicality and strength and he’s a precise route-runner.

High-caliber receivers have already given Florida football considerable trouble. One example is Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden, who tied a season-best seven receptions in his game against Florida. He’s built just like Chase and is qualitatively similar to him. And these LSU receivers have Burrow throwing to them.

While C.J. Henderson and Marco Wilson will have their hands full, one definite area of weakness in Florida’s secondary is Trey Dean.  He’s grown notorious for his poor hips, which are important for changing direction, and for his lack of speed in coverage. Last year, he consistently graded (by PFF) as one of Florida’s worst defenders and his struggles this year were apparent even against Towson.

Another weakness in pass defense is Florida’s linebackers, who are much more solid attacking the line of scrimmage than dropping back into coverage.

From film-watching, it’s apparent that Kentucky had a plan, that it carried out well, to exploit Florida’s linebackers by targeting them (especially David Reese) in coverage. The Tigers can do a lot underneath and over the top of the middle of the field against the likes of Dean and Reese.

Florida backers may still counter that Burrow’s grade under pressure will drop after facing this Florida defense and they’ll cite last year for support.

Last year, though, was in The Swamp where the hostile environment was extremely difficult for LSU’s offense. Plus, Burrow and LSU’s offense were not the same.

Besides Burrow’s improved accuracy, LSU’s offensive line is restocked with all its key pieces with one example being Ed Ingram, who did not play in last year’s game. The Tigers have allowed less than half the number of sacks than they did through five games last year.

In general, the offense is completely different in that it’s innovative and modern. Its high tempo that averages just over two minutes per touchdown drive and general predication on speed in space will challenge Florida’s pass rush because it’s difficult to attack the quarterback with out-of-breath personnel. The Tiger tempo is also a nice tool for a larger spread because LSU is effectively giving itself more time to widen its lead.

One thing that Florida lacks is offensive balance. LSU has an o-line that ranks 15th in opportunity rate, a metric that measures an offensive line’s helpfulness towards the run game.

Conversely, the Gators’ rebuilding and very inexperienced offensive line is one of the nation’s worst in several regards. Based on the metrics, it’s one of the least effective in helping its running back move forward, ranking, for example, 113 spots behind the Tigers in opportunity rate. While an 88-yard touchdown run against Auburn makes its rush numbers look prettier, UF has shown even against its worst opponents that it can’t reliably move the ball on the ground.

Florida football also ranks in the bottom half in sack rate allowed. To help themselves, communication will be key.

But they’ll face an extremely noisy, 100,000-man environment that will also challenge their composure. Kyle Trask, whose mobility may be limited by an MCL sprain that he suffered last week, will have to make quicker decisions while contending with LSU’s 27th-best pass rush by sack rate.

While Florida likes to count on its depth at wide receiver, LSU’s secondary has answers with Grant Delpit, whom tight ends regularly struggle against and who is generally lauded by NFL scouts for his versatility and elite ball skills.

Another answer is Derek Stingley, who leads the SEC in opposing completion rate at 42 percent and in passes defended. Kary Vincent Jr. is also strongly trending upwards. This group ranks 34 spots behind Florida football in pass defense but is much more well-tested by higher-profile quarterbacks.

The match-up favors LSU, whose balance on offense, tempo, stacked quality at wide receiver and quarterback all amount to a potent offensive attack that can amass many points in a hurry. On defense, the Tigers have the tools with their pass rush and secondary to limit Florida’s one-dimensional offense.

This is also a bad situational spot for Florida football. Dating back to 2010, the last 12 ranked teams to upset a ranked team at home and then face another ranked team as an underdog the following week are1-11 SU and 4-8 ATS.

dark. Next. 5 memorable games for Florida against LSU

Betting Record: 4-2