Florida vs. LSU Betting Odds & Pick: Can the Gators Handle Death Valley at Night?
Ronald Cortes, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Ed Orgeron
- The latest betting odds list LSU as nearly a two-TD favorite over Florida on Saturday night.
- Will the Gators and their new quarterback stay composed in Death Valley, or will LSU's offense be too much to handle?
Florida at LSU Betting Odds
- Spread: LSU -13.5
- Over/Under: 56
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Location: Baton Rouge, La.
Florida at LSU Odds Movement
Based solely on the matchup, you might expect to see the public backing No. 5 LSU at home over the seventh-ranked Gators. A 13.5-point spread, however, has bettors thinking twice. In fact, bets on this game are split right down the middle.
LSU has generated a slightly higher percentage of money (59%), which had this spread up to -14 for a short time before returning within the two-touchdown mark. — Danny Donahue
Collin Wilson: Where Will This Game Be Decided?
The way Florida’s victory over Auburn played out last weekend could not have been any better for bettors looking to play this Saturday’s marquee game.
The Gators limited Bo Nix in a game that featured plenty of defensive havoc, but thanks to poor tackling from Auburn, Florida was able to turn a couple of explosive plays to earn the victory.
Auburn’s offense was not ready for Florida’s speed on defense, but the tables may get turned on the Gators in Death Valley. The big plays from Florida made up for their subpar run game, which ranks 113th in line yards and 125th in power success rate.
The explosive plays should be tougher to come by against LSU, who rank inside the top-25 in opponent pass completion percentage.
The Tigers are a complete team, with top-10 yards per play numbers on both sides of the ball, but the offense has been the key component to LSU’s strong start, as Joe Burrow has led them to a top-10 success rate.
It will be Strength vs. Strength on Saturday, though, as Florida boasts some of the best success rate numbers in the country on defense. When opponents do beat the Gators, it is through the air. Florida ranks 78th in preventing big pass plays (20 yards or more).
That could pose a problem against Burrow and LSU’s high-flying offense as the hiring of Joe Brady as pass-game coordinator may be the best position upgrade in college football. Brady has turned an offense that lived off a collection of three-yard rushes and a cloud of dust into one of the most explosive air attacks in the nation. Only Alabama has had more passing plays go for 20-or-more-yards than the Tigers.
Our projected spread for this game is LSU -13.5, so this number is justified. That being said, LSU has better havoc and explosiveness numbers and they should benefit from a raucous crowd.
The Pick: LSU -13 or better
Stuckey: Which Team Is Overrated?
This game comes down to two questions: Is the market overvaluing the Tigers’ new offensive scheme and success? And are we undervaluing this Florida defense?
LSU has yet to play a pass defense with a pulse this year. From a yards per attempt perspective, the best pass defense LSU has faced this year is Utah State, which ranks 71st in the country. Its other three opponents, excluding FCS Northwestern State, all rank in the bottom-20 nationally. All four FBS opponents rank outside the top 100 in passing yards allowed per game. Florida ranks 19th.
Burrow looks like a different quarterback this season and the LSU scheme is much more explosive but regardless, the Tigers have yet to face a pass defense of the caliber of Florida, which is now as healthy as it’s been all year.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will send pressure from all over and can play multiple looks on the back-end with his excellent secondary. Florida’s defensive line is a strength, ranking fifth in sack rate, and second nationally in QBR allowed. The Gators also sit second in the country in passes deflected and first in interceptions. This defense can cause havoc as well as any in the country.
I know Burrow leads the nation in a few categories when under pressure this year but the sample size is small and volatile. And if LSU, which has struggled to establish a running game so far this year, becomes one-dimensional, I think it plays right into Florida’s hands.
As good as this Florida defense is, LSU’s elite offense will still put up points, so Florida’s second-string quarterback Kyle Trask will have to answer some big questions under the lights in Death Valley.
The load will be heavy on Trask, as I don’t expect the Gators to have any success running the ball. After having to replace four starters, the offensive line has been one of their biggest weaknesses. They even struggled to generate a push against Towson in the first half.
Not surprisingly, per Football Outsiders, the Gators OL ranks 125th in Power Success Rate (runs on 3rd or 4th and short that achieved a first down) and will be going up against an LSU defense that ranks first in the nation in that department.
That likely means that Dan Mullen will have to use short passes and misdirection as his rushing attack and Trask will have to make accurate throws downfield without making mistakes against a very talented secondary. It remains to be seen if he’s up to the task but the weapons are there.
It’s not going to be easy, but the narrative of “Death Valley at Night” is somewhat blown out of proportion from a betting perspective. Yes. it’s one of the best atmospheres in college football and the crowd is certainly a factor but everyone knows it.
Blindly betting on LSU because “the Tigers are playing on Saturday night in Death Valley” isn’t going pay the bills. There’s a reason LSU is only 34-40 ATS at home in primetime games since 2005.
All in all, I think Florida has value here and I make this line closer to 10. However, I do have to account for the fact that Florida won’t be able to run the ball and nobody knows what to expect from Trask in this setting.
That said, if this line gets to 14 or especially 14.5, I’ll have to take a chomp out of the Gators.
The Pick: Florida +14 or better