LSU @ FLORIDA | 10/06 | 3:30 PM EDT
Is it put-up-or-shut-up time for coach Ed Orgeron? While the rest of the West seems to be improving, the feel around Baton Rouge is one of uncertainty. Orgeron’s contentious relationship with Matt Canada, the former offensive coordinator who was let go after just one season, speaks to the state of the program. Still, it will always recruit loads of NFL-caliber talent, especially on defense. This season, junior linebacker Devin White will unleash what defensive coordinator Dave Aranda cooks up on the field. There are more questions about the offense, especially QB, the Tigers’ perpetual Achilles heel. Danny Etling is gone, which is hardly a death sentence, but there’s no sense of a true starter. Combine all of this with one of the toughest schedules in the country, and it could be a down year for LSU.
The Gators have something no other SEC team can claim: 19 returning starters. But to threaten Georgia in the division, they will need to produce much more on offense’Florida scored more than 30 points in conference just once, against lowly Vanderbilt. It starts with quarterback Feleipe Franks, who mustered just nine passing touchdowns and threw for under 1,500 yards in a season that ended with a seven-game losing streak to Power 5 teams. But it’s who isn’t returning for Florida’its head coach’that could signal the biggest change in The Swamp. Dan Mullen squeezed everything he could out of his teams in Starkville, and he’ll have much more talent to work with, on both sides of the ball, in Gainesville. Give him a season or two to smooth out the rough edges, but expect Florida’s 4-7 mark to flip, at least, in 2018.
Florida has won and covered its last three games after losing at home to Kentucky, but the win last week at Mississippi State showed the Gators may be underrated. Coach Dan Mullen has done a fantastic job rebooting the program. However, I still have LSU rated high enough to where I have some value with the Tigers on the road. Joe Burrow is just getting started, LSU’s undefeated and the Tigers also have covered their last eight SEC games. LSU is the play.