This is Personal
Some pregame chatter should only add to the intensity when the fourth-ranked Tigers visit the No. 11 Gators on Saturday night in an SEC contest featuring the last two national champions.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Florida -6 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on LSU +6 View College Football bet percentages).
With the game days away, LSU defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois mentioned in a published report Monday that the Tiger defenders would try to knock Florida quarterback and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow out of Saturday's game.
The comment caused a bit of a stir on both sides and Jean-Francois was forced to make a statement on LSU's official Web site clarifying his words.
"We never go into any football game trying to hurt a player from the other team," the junior said in the release. "My comments in regard to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow were misinterpreted and were intended to reflect the style of football that we play at LSU. We have great respect for Tim as player and a competitor. By taking him out of the game, I meant, as a defense we are going to try to make him ineffective. I'm sorry that my initial comments were interpreted another way."
It's not as if any bulletin board material was needed for this contest which marks the first time in 18 years the national champs from the two previous years met in the regular season. The last was Oct. 20, 1990, when 1988 champion Notre Dame beat 1989 champ Miami 29-20 at South Bend.
The home team has never lost in a matchup of the past two national champions.
Though defending national champion LSU (4-0, 2-0) has won four of the last six meetings against 2006 champ Florida (4-1, 2-1) - including two of the last three in Gainesville - Tigers coach Les Miles still has reason for concern.
"If you find any weaknesses, tell me," Miles said. "They don't have any weaknesses. Being ranked (No. 11) is underselling them some. It will be our strengths against their strengths.
"Our team will have a real want to compete in that game. If we play like we can, I like our matchup. Make no bones about it. This game will be fun to play. The players will enjoy this one."
Last season, then-No. 1 LSU needed 14 fourth-quarter points to beat then-No. 9 Florida 28-24 in Baton Rouge, despite Tebow throwing for two touchdowns and running for another.
Stopping Tebow is an obvious must for the Tigers, who rank 19th in the nation allowing 15.3 points per game. The junior was 17-for-26 for 217 yards and two touchdowns in Florida's 38-7 win at Arkansas last Saturday to bounce back from a disappointing 31-30 home loss to unranked Mississippi on Sept. 27.
"Everything's based on momentum, confidence and that swagger that people talk about," said Tebow, who has thrown for 1,025 yards and eight TDs with one interception this season to lead the SEC's top-ranked offense that averages 36.0 points per contest, slightly better than LSU's 35.5 per game.
The Gators are expected to have versatile Percy Harvin in the lineup after he sprained his ankle against Arkansas.
"We hope to get him back (Wednesday),'' said Florida coach Urban Meyer of Harvin, who has 19 catches for 284 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing 27 times for 177 yards and two scores.
Having been idle last week, LSU has enjoyed some extended time to get healthy and properly prepare for the Gators while trying to open with five straight victories for the first time since 1972-73.
"For the most part, we healed," Miles said. "The off week went well. It was a very productive time for us."
LSU held on for 34-24 victory over Mississippi State on Sept. 27 in its most recent contest where running back Charles Scott rushed for a season-high 141 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns to crack the 100-yard mark for the fourth consecutive game.
Sophomore quarterback Jarrett Lee will make his second straight start since replacing the injured Andrew Hatch (concussion) in a win at then-No. 10 Auburn on Sept. 20. Though Lee was 18-for-27 for 261 yards and two touchdowns against Mississippi State, Hatch will be available for this contest.
"Lee will get the first look," Miles said. "We'll bring in Andrew on the second or third series, maybe later. Who knows?"
Florida leads 28-23-3 in the all-time series with LSU.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
FLORIDA is 10-6 against the spread versus LSU since 1992
FLORIDA is 11-5 straight up against LSU since 1992
10 of 13 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
FLORIDA is 2-0 against the spread versus LSU over the last 3 seasons
FLORIDA is 1-1 straight up against LSU over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at FLORIDA since 1992
LSU is 5-3 against the spread versus FLORIDA since 1992
FLORIDA is 6-2 straight up against LSU since 1992
5 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons.
FLORIDA is 1-0 against the spread versus LSU over the last 3 seasons
FLORIDA is 1-0 straight up against LSU over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[DT] Ricky Jean-Francois left last game %27?%27 - Leg - 09/27/08
[DT] Charles Alexander is probable. - Undisclosed - 10/01/08
[LB] Darry Beckwith missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 09/27/08
[RB] Emmanuel Moody left last game, downgraded to doubtful. - Ankle - 09/2
[TE] Cornelius Ingram is out for the season. - ACL - 08/09/08
[TE] Aaron Hernandez is probable. - Foot - 09/30/08
[OL] Jim Tartt left last game, downgraded to expected to miss. - Shoulder
[OL] Jim Barrie expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/12/08
[OL] Marcus Gilbert downgraded to doubtful - Ankle - 09/30/08
[DL] Torrey Davis missed last game doubtful - Disciplinary - 09/27/08
[DT] John Brown is out indefinitely. - Hand - 09/17/08
[LB] Dustin Doe downgraded to expected to miss next 2 games. - Hernia - 10
[LB] Ryan Stamper upgraded to probable - Ankle - 10/01/08
[LB] Brendan Beal is expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/12/08
[S] Dorian Munroe expected to miss entire season - ACL - 08/07/08
[DB] Will Hill left last game %27?%27 - Hamstring - 09/29/08
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