Kelly, Napier get first taste of wild LSU-Florida series

Published 11:20 am Thursday, October 13, 2022

LSU (4-2, 2-1 SEC) at Florida (4-2, 1-2), 7 p.m. ET, Saturday (ESPN)

Line: Florida by 3, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Florida leads 33-32-3.

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WHAT’S AT STAKE?

First-year coaches Brian Kelly and Billy Napier can move a step closer to bowl eligibility with a victory. LSU had been enjoying an impressive turnaround under Kelly until last week’s 40-13 debacle at Tennessee. Florida has been in every game this season under Napier, with both losses coming against ranked teams. The first meeting between the two coaches puts a spotlight on LSU athletic director Scott Woodward, who chose Kelly over Napier in Baton Rouge. Woodward preferred a proven commodity instead of the coach who had led Louisiana-Lafayette to four consecutive division titles in the Sun Belt Conference. If Napier wins the first of what’s expected to be many head-to-heads, it could start some second-guessing on the bayou.

KEY MATCHUP

Florida QB Anthony Richardson against LSU’s defensive front led by B.J. Ojulari. The Tigers were allowing 14.8 points a game until struggling against Hendon Hooker and the Volunteers last week. Richardson has been dynamic at times, but he also has at least one turnover in five straight games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LSU: Ojulari leads LSU with 3½ sacks and twice has been named SEC defensive lineman of the week this season. He’ll be tasked with helping keep Richardson in the pocket.

Florida: LB Ventrell Miller is coming off an 11-tackle performance against Missouri that included 10 solo takedowns. He’s the best player on Florida’s flawed defense and one of the few guys capable of changing a game.

FACTS & FIGURES

LSU has won three straight in the series — the past two have been wild finishes — and seven of nine. … The last meeting in Gainesville was epic, with the final minutes coming in an eerie fog and including a shoe toss that prompted a 15-yard penalty and set up Cade York’s 57-yard field goal. Florida’s Evan McPherson missed a tying 51-yarder on the final play. … LSU LT Will Campbell is expected to return to the starting lineup following a three-day hospital stay. Campbell collapsed during a walk-through last Friday and was hospitalized for tests. He was released Monday and returned to practice the following day. … LSU will start a different quarterback for the ninth straight trip to Gainesville. JaMarcus Russell (2004-06) was the program’s last QB to start consecutive games in Gainesville. … LSU’s Kayshon Boutte reached the 100-career reception mark last week. He has 100 receptions for 1,374 yards and 15 TDs in 21 games. … The Gators are playing their sixth home game in seven weeks to start the season. They are 4-1 in the Swamp. … Florida has scored in 429 consecutive games, an NCAA-record streak that began in 1988.