Born on the Bayou

Born on the Bayou
Florida at LSU

SEC Game of the Week
October 1, 2007
By Bob Epling

LSU looks like a fast freight train … just a chooglin on down to New Orleans.

Florida jumped the tracks.

A national title contender was supposed to be born on the bayou this weekend in Baton Rouge. Instead, the Gators will be chasing down a hoodoo there.

Sorry to go all Creedence Clearwater Revival on you, but last weekend’s Insanity Saturday sent me up around the bend.

Top-ranked teams were falling faster than Congress’ approval ratings.

I don’t even know what a hoodoo is, but I’m pretty sure one was dressed in white and trimmed in Auburn Blue and Orange at Florida Field this past Saturday.

Florida got derailed from the championship chase (at least for a week), when the Plainsmen outplayed the Gators and beat them 20-17 on a last-second field goal at the swamp.

Down in Louisiana, LSU can still see the light.

The Tigers handled Tulane 34-9 without much commotion, although I heard through the grapevine that the first half (which ended with LSU up 10-9) was nothing to write a song about.

That brings us to this showdown.

For weeks, college football fans have eagerly anticipated the first weekend in October.

A day Texas and Oklahoma would battle in the Red River shootout to determine a national championship contender from the great Southwest.

Colorado and Kansas State put a spell on that.

A day West Virginia and Rutgers would hold serve to continue their unbeaten marches toward a tussle that provided a Big East entry into the championship chatter.

Maryland and South Florida knocked that notion down on the corner and out in the street.

A day Florida and LSU would determine a fortunate son from the Deep South.

Well, maybe someday.

Or, maybe, as John Fogarty and the boys sang … someday never comes.

Even after the Florida loss, this figures to be the SEC regular season game of the year.

Gator quarterback Tim Tebow is more popular than orange juice and sunshine in Florida, but keep in mind he is still a sophomore and this is only his second road start. He was brilliant the first time the Gators took to the road this season, rambling for 166 yards on the ground against Ole Miss.

LSU obviously presents a stiffer defensive challenge.

Tebow would be helped if the UF rushing attack consisted of more than his simple draws and bull rushes from the shotgun formation, mixed with an occasional reverse or option to one of the Gators fleet wideouts. Tebow is terrific, but he will take punishment against LSU and could use a little ramble tamble from Percy Harvin. Shiftier than a Louisiana politician, Harvin needs twenty touches in the game.

For LSU, Matt Flynn is steady as a certificate of deposit, only he provides better returns. Flynn has all the experience Tebow lacks, and his athleticism is underrated. The Tigers also boast a big, mobile, and talented backup in Ryan Perrilloux. He provides a nice change of pace to Flynn, and often enters for short yardage or goal line plays.

The Tigers backfield is deeper than Lake Pontchartrain. Jacob Hester, a hybrid fullback-tailback, gets the bulk of the work, but Keiland Williams, Charles Scott, and Trindon Holliday also get touches. Holliday is a particular long-distance threat.

LSU should hold a significant edge on defense.

The Tigers front seven and secondary are more experienced than their reptilian counterparts, and if the LSU offense can find seams in the Gator pass defense like Auburn was able to do, it might be another night of “who’ll stop the rain” for Florida.

Both teams are coming off less than stellar games.

You know about the Florida loss, but the LSU offensive line gave up six sacks, had four false starts, three holds, and a personal foul against Tulane.

Our bayou buddies know the term … Poo-yee!

So, showdown Saturday is not perfect.

But, LSU can stay that way with a win.

For Florida, there’s a bad moon on the rise.

Game Ball: LSU

bobepling@yahoo.com

Note: This week marks the 38th anniversary of the first SEC football game to be televised at night. Alabama beat Ole Miss and the great Archie Manning 33-32. Both teams wore special designs on their helmets commemorating 100 years of intercollegiate football. The Tide won, but Manning set an SEC record with 540 total yards.

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