A look at the No. 5 game of the upcoming season:
LSU at Florida
Date: Oct. 9
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
Last meeting: In Tim Tebow’s first game back from a concussion, the Gators played a conservative game, controlling the ball and playing shutdown defense in a 13-3 win in Baton Rouge. Tebow threw for 134 yards and the game’s only touchdown, and Florida held LSU to 162 yards of offense, the Tigers’ worst showing in a season full of disappointing efforts.
Recent history: Florida’s Urban Meyer and LSU’s Les Miles joined their respective programs in 2005. Since then, Meyer has gotten the better of Miles in three of five meetings, including two straight at the end of the Tebow era. The Tigers haven’t won in Gainesville since 2002.
What’s at stake: There are no division stakes in this matchup, but these have been two of the most successful programs in the SEC in the past five years. Florida’s 57 wins are the most in the SEC during that time; LSU’s 51 wins are second. Both won two national championships in the past decade So while Alabama reigns atop the league now, these two programs aren’t far behind. Either team could use a win to try to keep pace with the Crimson Tide for conference supremacy.
Subplots: LSU is happy to bid farewell to Tebow, who went 3-1 during his career against the Tigers, but Florida simply has reloaded. Junior quarterback John Brantley drew raves in the spring, while speedster Jeff Demps, who ran for 86 yards against LSU last year, leads a running back-by-committee that has an abundance of talent. For the Tigers, quarterback Jordan Jefferson’s season reached new depths last year against Florida. He was 11-of-17 for 96 yards and an interception and had 12 carries for negative-1 yard, getting sacked five times. With six new starters on the Gators’ defense, this could be a chance for Jefferson to make amends, especially if the Tigers’ receiving corps, including veteran Terrance Toliver and high-profile 2009 recruits Russell Shepard and Rueben Randle, can step up.
— Andy Bitter