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Strength vs. Strength In Baton Rouge

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Zach Mettenberger will need to continue to play at a high level to give the Tigers a chance to defeat Florida. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images.
Zach Mettenberger will need to continue to play at a high level to give the Tigers a chance to defeat Florida. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images.

Florida boasts the best total defense in the SEC and second-best in the country. They also lead the conference in scoring defense and are fourth in the nation in that category. The Gators only surrender 217 yards per game and just more than 12 points per contest. On the other hand, LSU has averaged nearly 489 yards on offense this season while scoring 45.5 points a game.

Which team’s strength will win out Saturday? This is a true contrast of styles and should make for a fun football game. The numbers are staggering when comparing what each team does best. Florida’s defense has allowed just three touchdown passes this year while forcing eight interceptions. Zach Mettenberger is putting together a phenomenal season with 15 touchdowns passes and just two interceptions.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp has even commented on Mettenberger’s development from last season to this season. “Zach Mettenberger is playing at a very high level. Zach has a better understanding in the passing game with last year being his first as the guy. Everybody matures at different ages," Muchamp said.

Miami is the only team to beat Florida so far this season. Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris was instrumental in that upset. It could easily be said that Mettenberger has a much better cast around him than Morris.

The Gators’ stingy defense has only given up three rushing touchdowns through five games, and allows only 65 yards per contest on the ground. LSU’s star running back Jeremy Hill averages nearly 119 yards per game by himself and the team produces more than 197 rushing yards through six contests. The Tigers’ rushing attack has accounted for 20 touchdowns on the ground.

While the showdown between Florida’s defense and LSU’s offense might get all the attention, it will be interesting to see how Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy plays on the road in Tiger Stadium. The junior has done a good job filling in for injured starter Jeff Driskel, who went down in Florida’s third game against Tennessee. In less than three games, Murphy has completed 72 percent of his passes for 530 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception.

It will be imperative for LSU’s defense to force more turnovers and rattle Murphy, especially early in the game. John Chavis’ defense gave up just three points in the second half against Mississippi State. That was far better than the 67 points surrendered during the Georgia game and the first half of last week’s contest. Hopefully for Tigers fans, this means the LSU defense has settled down and found the right chemistry to stay in games against highly talented SEC teams.