GAME OF THE WEEK: Week 7
LSU's offense appears to be one of the best in school history, but the Tigers haven't run into a defense quite like Florida's.
Tenth-ranked LSU seeks its 28th win in 29 home games Saturday as its high-powered offense squares off with the stingy defense of the No. 17 Gators.
The Tigers (5-1, 2-1 SEC) have mostly cruised behind their offense, with the only blemish a 44-41 loss at then-No. 9 Georgia on Sept. 28. They come off last Saturday's 59-26 win at Mississippi State in which they tallied 563 total yards and 28 fourth-quarter points. The total points were their most in an SEC game since a 63-28 victory at Kentucky on Nov. 1, 1997.
LSU has topped 400 yards in each of its first six games and scored at least 35 points in each of its first six for the first time in school history.
Les Miles' club averaged 374.2 yards and 29.8 points last year to rank in the bottom half of the SEC with first-year starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger at the helm. He's been a revelation this season under first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, pushing those numbers to 488.8 and 45.5 this year. The scoring average ranks ninth nationally.
Mettenberger's 190.1 passer ratings is the FBS' fourth-best, and he's already thrown 15 touchdowns after totaling 12 last year. He's completing 68.8 percent of his passes, leads the country with 35 passes for 20 yards or more and is on pace for single-season school records for passing yards and TDs.
"Zach is playing just like we need him to play at home or on the road," Miles said. "He is the leader. He is in charge of the communication. Zach is one of those guys on the field who gives you advantages not just with his arm, but with his mind."
Helping Mettenberger's cause have been receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, who are third and fourth in the SEC in receiving yardage with 686 and 616 yards, respectively. Beckham is also college football's leader in all-purpose yardage at 228.2 per game.
Running back Jeremy Hill has also helped keep defenses honest by averaging 118.8 rushing yards to rank second in the conference.
The offense hardly resembles the unit that was held to two field goals, 200 yards and eight first downs in a 14-6 loss at then-No. 10 Florida last season. Still, LSU's gaudy numbers this year haven't come against anything close to an elite defense. Three of their opponents have ranked 96th or worst in team defense with TCU's 34th-ranked unit providing the greatest challenge in a 37-27 season-opening win.
The competition improves significantly with the Gators (4-1, 3-0).
Florida allows 217.0 yards per game, second-fewest in the country, while its 12.2 opponent scoring average is tied for the FBS' fourth-lowest.
But the Gators haven't faced a high-octane offense either, defeating Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas in conference play -- the SEC's three worst in terms of total offense.
They have recorded at least one takeaway in 16 straight games, including three against LSU last season. Mettenberger was 11 for 25 for 158 yards with an interception and sacked four times
Vernon Hargreaves leads the Gators with three interceptions, while five other players have tallied one each.
Florida's offense has been bolstered in three games with Tyler Murphy under center after original starter Jeff Driskel's season ended due to a broken leg suffered against the Volunteers on Sept. 21. Murphy has recorded a 181.5 passer rating compared to the 135.5 mark by Driskel, though he has yet to play in an environment like Tiger Stadium, where LSU has won three of the last four meetings.
The Tigers' lone home loss in their last 28 was to top-ranked Alabama last year.
"I don't see him getting flustered," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said of Murphy. "He's demanding of himself. He's demanding of what he wants from coaches, too. And he's demanding from his teammates."
LSU's defense has been uncharacteristically vulnerable, surrendering an average of 466.3 yards in conference play. However, the Tigers held Mississippi State to just three second-half points last week.
Florida leads all-time series 31-25-3, though they've split the last 10 matchups.