Top 25 preview • Florida set for rematch against LSU.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Gainesville, Fla. • No one needs to remind Florida what happened the last two years. No one needs to remind LSU what happened the last two weeks.
Those vivid and somewhat painful memories give the 10th-ranked Gators and fourth-ranked Tigers something to prove when they meet in The Swamp on Saturday.
Florida would like nothing more than to avenge consecutive losses to LSU, including a humbling, 41-11 beatdown in Baton Rouge last season. The Tigers, meanwhile, have been far from perfect in their last two games closer-than-expected wins against Auburn and lower-division Towson.
How the Gators (4-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) and Tigers (5-0, 1-0) respond probably will determine who remains undefeated and who is left scrambling in its division race.
"A lot of people still doubt us and don't really believe in this Florida team," Gators fullback Hunter Joyer said. "So I think we need to make a statement this weekend."
Although Florida already has three conference wins, including two on the road, there are still plenty of questions surrounding coach Will Muschamp's team.
Will sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel continue to improve? Can Florida's offensive line hold up against an elite defensive front? Can the Gators consistently stop the run?
LSU manhandled Florida on both lines of scrimmage the last two years, gaining 161 yards on the ground in a 33-29 win in 2010 and then gouging the Gators for 238 yards rushing last season.
"We got beat really bad. Really bad," Florida defensive tackle Omar Hunter said. "It was a sick feeling."
And one Muschamp doesn't want the Gators to forget.
He used that lopsided loss and 0-for-October as motivation during the offseason, and following impressive, second-half efforts at Texas A&M and Tennessee, players and coaches are confident things will be different against the Tigers.
"I think we're much better than we were a year ago," Muschamp said. "We're much deeper, more mature, more experienced. I think we're stronger. I think we handle adversity a lot better. … I think anybody that was a part of watching us and being a part of our organization last year and this year will notice a night and day difference between our football team.
"I think we've made tremendous improvement in a short period of time."
The Tigers have noticed the changes, starting with Driskel's play. He has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 698 yards, with four touchdowns and an interception. He also has 148 yards rushing and a score, able to keep plays alive when protection breaks down around him.
"They certainly look like a better team than last year," LSU cornerback Tharold Simon said.
Saturday's TV schedule
• Navy at Air Force, 9:30 a.m., Ch. 2
• Northwestern at Penn State, 10 a.m., ESPN
• Arkansas at Auburn, 10 a.m., ESPN2
• Boise State at Southern Miss, 10 a.m., ROOT
• Kansas at Kansas State, 10 a.m., FX
• UConn at Rutgers, 10 a.m., ESPNU
• Michigan State at Indiana, 10 a.m., Big Ten
• Mississippi State at Kentucky, 10 a.m., Altitude
• Boston College at Army, 10 a.m., CBSSN
• Towson at James Madison, 11 a.m., NBCSN
• Arizona at Stanford, 1 p.m., Ch. 13
• Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 4
• LSU at Floirida, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 2
• Georgia Tech at Clemson, 1:30 p.m., ESPN
• Illinois at Wisconsin, 1:30 p.m., ESPN2
• Montana at Northern Colorado,1:30 p.m., ROOT
• Wake Forest at Maryland, 1:30 p.m., ESPNU
• Tulsa at Marshall, 1:30 p.m., CBSSN
• Michigan at Purdue, 2 p.m., Big Ten
• New Mexico State at Idaho, 3 p.m.,Altitude
• Washington State at Oregon State,4 p.m., Pac-12
• Georgia at South Carolina, 5 p.m., ESPN
• Montana at UC Davis, 5 p.m., ROOT
• Texas at Mississippi, 5 p.m., ESPNU
• Miami vs. Notre Dame, 5:30 p.m. Ch. 5
• Florida St. at N.C. State, 6 p.m., ESPN2
• Nebraska at Ohio State, 6 p.m., Ch. 4
• Hawaii at San Diego St., 6 p.m., CBSSN
• UCLA at Cal, 8 p.m., Pac-12
• Washington at Oregon, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
• Southern at Alcorn State, 8:30 p.m. (tape), ESPNU
• Iowa State at TCU, 8:30 p.m. (tape), ROOT