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Staff Picks - #7 Auburn @ #10 Florida

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HUGE game in the Swamp.

Game of the day, y’all. Let’s get into it. Auburn and Florida meet for the first time in six years, and it’s basically a rehash of the showdown 25 years ago when Patrick Nix led the charge and the Tigers knocked off the top-ranked Gators in the Swamp.

#7 Auburn (-3) @ #10 Florida (O/U 48)

For the 6th time in as many games this game will be determined by Auburn. We’re the better team and if we win it’s because we dictate victory. If we fall it’s because we dictate defeat. I have no doubt this will be the toughest challenge Auburn has faced up to this point in the season. While there is plenty to look at with Florida and assume we should come out victorious, this matchup is tricky because of the scheme we face, especially up front along the offensive line. As our dear friend Spencer Hall like to point out, Todd Grantham’s defenses are known for “emotional blitzing”. Grantham is going to blitz early and often, with a skillful defensive line to boot, creating stunts that give me cause for concern with interior of our OL. Now, is this because our OL has shown they haven’t improved from last year? No. But the shadows of last year’s collapses with this group still loom in my mind and they still have something to prove to replace my concern with hope. Now, onto the keys to victory:

Stay a little conservative on 3rd down offensively. I know, I know…everyone here will bemoan this and point to the LSU game in 2017. But my point in this is that I don’t think this Florida offense can have sustained success if they have to go 75-80 yards to hit pay dirt. Don’t lose the momentum by taking a sack on 3rd down. Don’t force a ball down field and risk a turnover. This is a field position game that we are likely to win if we just stay out of our own way. This can be helped by…

Run the football for at least 150 yards. I don’t care how you get there. Get to 150, with fresh legs in the 4th quarter and you’re in a good position to win this game.

Continue to find 1 on 1 situations in the slant route over the middle 8-12 yards down field. Nothing cools the jets of blitzing linebackers in a 3-4 scheme quicker than gaining chunks of yards by delivering the ball to where a linebacker was in the pre-snap.

If CJ Henderson blankets Seth Williams all day, take a shot in the right moment on a 50/50 ball and see if we win it. If Seth is double covered all day, line of Schwartz next to him and send him deep. No one can keep up with him.

Let’s see some tunnel screen action on Saturday. It’s been impressive what Prince Tega does when he has the ability to lay into someone’s blindside, and throwing into a blitz will soften them up.

No turnovers. None. Not 1. Don’t do it. I’M SERIOUS ABOUT IT DO NOT TURN THAT BALL OVER ON THE ROAD.

Defensively, make Kyle Trask uncomfortable by sending some heat from the second level and trust your guys in the secondary. His job on Saturday is going to be infinitely hard.

We are about to be tested in a way that we haven’t seen since the Oregon game. They will find ways to limit our success offensively that is going to frustrate us at times over 4 quarters. If we play a clean game from a turnover perspective and play field position football, they shouldn’t be able to hold up. I think we do just that, and get out of the Swamp with a victory. Auburn 24 Florida 14

-Josh Black

I get to be live and in technicolor for this one with Big Dave and my other brothers (there will be plenty of photos, don’t you dare worry).

The more I look at this game, the more I see an Auburn win. The offense has gotten progressively better each week and now that the receivers are as healthy as they have been all season, things look really good. (Also, the offensive line has looked muuuuch better the past 2 weeks). On the other side of the ball, Florida has got a really impressive secondary and their front 7 have looked stout through the first 5 ballgames. However, its hard not to look stout when taking on Miami, UT-Martin, UT-Knoxville, Kentucky and Towson. This will by far be the biggest test the Gators have faced all season and will be until...next week when they play at night in Baton Rouge. Auburn on the other hand gets an off week before taking on Arkansas. Going back to the game, Auburn’s defense has been battle tested and just got done punishing the SEC’s Leading Rusher Kylin Hill, holding him to just 45 yards for the day. Kyle Trask took over for the injured Felipe Franks and that’s a good thing for Florida. Trask was able to come in and save the Gators perfect record in a comeback effort against Kentucky. However, Trask hasn’t seen a front 7 like he will see Saturday afternoon. The battle I will be watching is if Trask has time to throw the ball and can he complete the necessary passes against an Auburn secondary that has given up 3rd and longs for 1st downs the past few weeks. Also, watch to see if Florida attacks the middle of the field with the passing attack. If Auburn can sure those two items up, it will be a not so happy Homecoming for the Gators. I see Auburn getting the win and covering here and I will go with the under. Auburn 24-17

-Drew Mac

Like last week, but more intense, I’m scared how confident I am in this one. Auburn is battle-tested. Florida is not. Auburn has the better offense and the better defensive line. And yet, it’s on the road at the second toughest venue Auburn will travel to this season. I thought Auburn’s best path to 9 wins this season was to go 2-1 against Oregon, A&M, and Florida and 1-2 against LSU, UGA, and Bama. Two of the first group are down. Let’s BARN HARD FOLKS.

Auburn 23, Florida 17 (Auburn covers, UNDER)

-James Jones

We turn our attention to the third Southeastern Conference opponent of the 2019 campaign. Florida is a physical team that hasn’t really been tested yet. Their schedule leaves a lot to be desired. Don’t read into that though: Florida is good. They are a top 10 team right now, talent wise.

From listening to Florida fans, it sounds like they anticipate Mullen and Co. scheming their offense similar to their Mississippi State game last year – lots of screens, lots of quick routes. Anything to protect their quarterback from an elite defensive line. They punted a lot, played the field position game, and eventually smothered state 13-6.

Auburn is too explosive. It will take more than one touchdown to beat Auburn. Schwartz has been hounded all week by Florida fans who weren’t pleased that the fastest man in America picked Auburn over Florida. Malzahn seems more than comfortable getting him the ball in space and letting his legs do all the work. We’ve also seen some deep balls get thrown his way, finally connecting on one against Mississippi State. If Auburn can manage a few explosive plays early, it can force Florida to abandon this gameplan – allowing Derrick Brown to feast.

This game won’t rely on late game heroics. Auburn will pull away after a slow start. Auburn advances to 6-0 for only the third time in the last 20 years and 17th time in program history

Auburn 35, Florida 24

-Josh Dub

Swing game #2 has arrived. Before A&M I said there would be 3 games that determine whether or not this is a bad, good or great season: @ AM, @ UF, vs UGA. Tigers took care of business in College Station & will look to do the same in Gainesville.

I think Auburn is a better football team than Florida. However, I don’t think the gap is as wide between these programs as some AU fans might believe. You can’t overlook The Swamp playing a factor and there are two specific matchups that give me pause heading into Saturday: AU’s OL vs UF’s DL & AU’s WRs vs UF’s DBs. Those are two matchups where UF could win & be enough to get the W.

Auburn has seen some stout front 4s this season but UF’s is by far the most athletic. While Oregon, Tulane & A&M were built to clog lanes up the middle, this group is built to penetrate & disrupt. That means Tega/Driscoll must have good days handling speed off the edge & Nix has to have outstanding pocket awareness. It also means I think Auburn could have some opportunities running the football between the tackles but that means Harrell/Kim/Horton all playing an outstanding game.

On the other side of the ball, Auburn’s DL is a major mismatch over UF’s OL. The Gators cannot run the ball & I think unlike Jimbo, Dan Mullen won’t even really try. Ya he will attempt some running plays but he isn’t gonna stubbornly slam his running backs into that wall. Instead, he’s going to attack AU’s perimeter using wide splits & quick hitting concepts. Get the ball out of Trask’s hands & into their playmaker’s as quickly as possible. The strength of this UF offense is at WR. Auburn’s defense MUST continue to tackle well in the open field. They will probably see a similar game plan Oregon & Kent State used earlier this season.

I would love for Auburn to come into Gainesville & just thump the Gators but I don’t have a lot of confidence that will happen. Florida is out to prove they are legitimate top 10 team & I expect they play their best game of the season. Turnovers will be critical & if the Tigers don’t take care of the ball this thing could go sideways fast. My guess is UF gets a TD on the board early but Steele adjusts. Nix doesn’t shred their defense through the air like he did to State’s but he connects on a few more than he did in Aggieland. Auburn leans on the Gators D which results in two long 2nd half TD drives. They make us sweat & the result isn’t as dominant as maybe some fans wanna see but Auburn heads into the Bye week 6-0. Tigers 24, Florida 16

-AU Nerd

I‘ll keep this one short and sweet. I’ll be at a wedding this weekend. Auburn athletics is undefeated when I’m at a wedding, 7-0 by my count, with the most recent two coming during Game 1 of the Super Regional against UNC and Kansas game back in March. I’ll be at a wedding during this one, too. In fact, there’s a decent chance the bride and groom are saying their “I Do”-s when the clock strikes 00:00. Bo Nix throws for 250 with a TD and a pick. Boobee and Schwartz both pick one up on the ground. The defensive line eats Kyle Trask alive for four sacks. And, as is tradition, we win the game on special teams. 27-20 Tigers.

-Ryan Sterritt

/andrew WK voice

So let’s start a barning party (Let’s start a barning party!)

Now it’s time to BARN and we’ll be BARNING SO hard (BARNIN hard!)

Let’s get start a BARNING party (Let’s start a barning party!)

When it’s time for barning we will always barn so hard

BARNIN hard!

(BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard)

BARNIN hard!

(BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard, BARNIN hard)

BARNIN hard!

Tigers 35, Gators 21

-Son of Crow

Before I get into what I think about this game, I have to get this off of my chest. It is absolutely criminal of the SEC that this will be Auburn’s first trip to Gainesville in 12 years and the team’s first matchup in 8 years. And the fact we won’t see this again until 2024 is even more ridiculous. Fix this SEC!

Okay, now that I’m off my soapbox, here’s my thoughts about this game. Auburn has been battle tested early and often this season and last week, you saw an offense click on all cylinders. This will be a tougher test for the offensive line but last week was their best game of the year and hopefully as the season goes along, they will continue to gel and improve. Bo Nix will look to replicate his dad’s performance and hopefully we’ll get a Nix to Williams moment or 2 again this week. Auburn actually has more experience at QB as the Gators go with Kyle Trask in his 3rd collegiate game and 1st SEC start. I’ve had a good feeling about this game all week and hopefully that feeling will carry into Saturday.

Auburn 28 Florida 17

-Will McLaughlin

Not scared at all. Haven’t been scared of Florida in nearly 20 years, ain’t gonna stay back now. That said, Mullen had the ability to give Auburn fits during his time in Starkville, so maybe this one is closer than I want it to be. I’m going to be nervous that the Fort Payne native kicker that Auburn didn’t try to sign is going to make us pay. That’s all I’m going to be thinking about if the game is close. Auburn just has to win the turnover battle and they go home with victory.

Tigers 31 - Swamp Lizards 17

-AU Chief

My classic Auburn fandom has threatened to take over this week. I’ve heard nothing but people whispering “Is... is Auburn the best team in the country?” since the win over Mississippi State. We certainly have the best resume in the country, but there are still a ton of folks who won’t give this team its due because oh no, the schedule is too hard, they’ll drop a couple games at least. Normally, I’d be sweating the mojo hard after talk of that nature. But this year? Right now? No, screw that.

One cannot Barn meekly.

I’ve watched a suspicious amount of Florida football this season (it always happened to be on!) and while they’ve been dominant at times — Tennessee, Townson, etc. — they struggled with teams that frankly ain’t all that good. They can’t run the ball. Kyle Trask is actually a more inexperienced quarterback than Bo Nix, and the combo of Gus Malzahn/Kevin Steele has pretty much always had the upper hand against Dan Mullen and Todd Grantham. We’ve already been to a hostile environment. Yes, the Swamp is different, but I don’t have any reason to believe that some denim-clad reptile lovers will have that much more of an effect than 10K more khaki-clad military lovers.

Bo Nix has found his rhythm, the offensive line seems... good... and the defense continues to do what we expected it to do. Towson got to Kyle Trask a few times. Auburn gets there more. Tigers disrupt the Gator offense and we hit one long pass play and one long run play on offense. Add in some constricting and you’ve got a win. Tigers 31-13.

-Jack Condon