Who is going to slow down No. 5 LSU’s offense? It’s a question that’s getting tougher and tougher to answer with each passing week
The Tigers offense was spectacular once again Saturday night against a staunch Florida defense in a 42-28 win over the No. 7 Gators.
Just how spectacular? Well, QB Joe Burrow had as many touchdowns (3) as incompletions. The third touchdown put the game away with 5:43 to go when Burrow found Ja’Marr Chase behind Florida’s secondary for a 54-yard catch and run. The touchdown came after Florida put together a 12-play drive and got near the Tigers’ end zone in an attempt to tie the game. But freshman cornerback Derek Stingley came up with a huge interception of Florida QB Kyle Trask.
The Tigers’ sixth touchdown came on just their 46th offensive play. Counting extra points, that’s 42 points on 48 plays; a spectacular points-per-play rate.
Florida, on the other hand, had to work extremely hard for its points. While LSU’s defense still has work to do — it didn’t get sacks on Trask until the second half — the Gators’ shortest scoring drive took eight plays. The other three touchdown drives took at least 11 plays.
The Gators had the ball nearly twice as long as LSU did. But that was simply a product of running so many more plays than LSU. Florida averaged 5.4 yards a snap. LSU’s offense averaged a crazy 11.1 yards per play.
That eight-play touchdown drive for the Gators came at the beginning of the second half after the teams entered the break tied 21-21. Florida made a concerted effort to throw to senior wide receiver Van Jefferson against Stingley and Jefferson had four catches on the drive including the go-ahead score.
But LSU’s offense wasn’t going to be stopped. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire tied the game less than four minutes later and Florida never led again. While Burrow was surgical through the air, LSU’s offense was able to gash Florida’s defense on the ground too. The Tigers had 218 rushing yards on just 24 carries.
“I thought their ability to run the ball was really the big difference in the game,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said.
Burrow has 25 TDs in 6 games
Burrow finished Saturday night 21-of-24 passing for 293 yards. The three TDs give him 25 for the season and puts him in third place all time among LSU quarterbacks for the most passing touchdowns in a single season.
And Burrow has played just six games in 2019.
It’s not inconceivable — heck, maybe even likely — that Burrow will break the school’s single-season passing TD on Oct. 19 against Mississippi State. All he needs is four touchdowns to break the record of 28 set by Matt Mauck in 2003 and tied by JaMarcus Russell in 2006.
Burrow’s passing TD rate coupled with the crazy passing totals that Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa is piling up in Tuscaloosa mean we could be in for an LSU-Alabama game on Nov. 9 like we’ve never seen before. Both teams are far more ferocious on offense than they are on defense and haven’t been stopped by anyone so far. The most points ever scored in a game between the Tigers and Crimson Tide is 75. That happened in 2007 when the Tigers beat Alabama 41-34.
That total could end up being the over/under ahead of this year’s contest.
Georgia keeps Florida’s East hopes burning bright
Yes, the Florida defense got torched by LSU’s offense for over 500 yards. But things could have been worse for the Gators.
That LSU performance came with two of the Gators’ best defenders hobbled. Linebacker Jonathan Greenard and defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga both missed significant portions of the game due to injury. And as we noted above, no one has slowed down LSU to this point this year anyway.
Florida’s offense also wasn’t overwhelmed at all either. While an offense averaging over five yards a play is going to get overshadowed when the other team is averaging twice that much, the quarterback rotation of Kyle Trask and Emory Jones kept the Gators in the game and running back Lamical Perine made one of the most absurd touchdown catches of the year.
Lamical Perine with one of the dumbest and best TDs of 2019 pic.twitter.com/VFQ8Hy7ezU
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) October 13, 2019
Most importantly, Florida didn’t lose any ground to Georgia in the SEC East race. And the Bulldogs suddenly look vulnerable.
Georgia lost 20-17 at home to South Carolina in double-overtime earlier in the day. The loss means that both Florida and Georgia are still tied in the standings and means the winner of the Nov. 2 matchup between the two teams will have the ability to lose another conference game and still win the division thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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