PREVIEW: Tigers travel to Gainesville Sat.

After a dominant 48-17 win over Mississippi State last weekend, the LSU Tigers will face their next big test this week when they travel to Gainesville for a meeting with the fifth-ranked Florida Gators.

Florida is 5-0 on the season after coming from behind to beat Alabama 28-13 on Saturday and have now won their last 12 games in The Swamp. LSU was the last team to beat the Gators in Gainesville, winning 24-21 during the 2004 season.


The Tigers have won the last two meetings between the two teams, claiming last year's win with a 21-17 score.


Historically, Florida leads the series between the programs 27-22-3, but the rivalry has gotten more heated over the past few seasons with LSU claiming three of the last four contests.


The Gators also handed LSU its only loss during the Tigers' 2003 National Championship run.


Last weekend, Florida trailed Alabama 13-0 at halftime, but they responded by outscoring the Crimson Tide 21-3 in the second half to run away with the win. The Gators have also beaten Southern Miss, Central Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky this season to reach their current 5-0 mark.


Through five games, Florida is averaging 30.2 points per game, outscoring opponents 151-47, with their only close game coming in a 21-20 win over Tennessee.


This weekend brings a new challenge for the Gators, however, as the LSU defense has allowed an average of just 7.4 points and 193.4 total offensive yards per game to establish themselves as one of the elite defenses in the country.


Leading the Florida offense this season has been senior quarterback Chris Leak, who has completed 84 passes for 1,240 yards and 14 touchdowns. Leak has been the Gators' starting signal caller for the past three seasons, accumulating 9,511 yards and 79 touchdowns, placing him fourth on the Florida career-passing list.


His biggest game to date this season came against Central Florida, where he threw for 352 yards and four touchdowns.


Leak's top target this season has been senior wide receiver Dallas Baker, who has 27 catches for 448 yards and five touchdowns. Last year, Baker finished with 52 catches for 697 yards, which was second only to now-New England Patriot Chad Jackson.


Joining Baker in the receiving corps are senior Jemalle Cornelius and junior Andre Caldwell, who are second and third on the team in receiving with 14 catches for 285 yards and 16 catches for 150 yards, respectively. True freshman Percy Harvin has also shown promise in the receiving game, running up 145 yards on eight catches.


Cornelius Ingram has been the Gators' chief producer at tight end, bringing in eight catches for 100 yards and one touchdown on the year after switching from the quarterback spot during the 2005 season.


The Gator running game has accounted for 836 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground this season, with senior DeShawn Wynn leading the way at running back. Wynn has gotten 64 carries for 354 yards and three touchdowns in 2006, after running for a total of 621 yards to lead the team a year ago.


Following Wynn on the ground has been true freshman Tim Tebow, who has carried 32 times for 193 yards and two scores. Tebow came out of high school as the one of the top quarterbacks in the country and should be the heir apparent to Leak following this season. He currently holds eight high school quarterback records for the state of Florida.


He is 8-for-12 with 116 passing yards at quarterback as a Gator.


Also pitching in for the Florida ground game is sophomore running back Kestahn Moore, who has had 30 carries for 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the year.


Florida's big offensive front is composed of tackles Carlton Medder and Phil Trautwein, guards Jim Tartt and Drew Miller and center Steve Rissler, all of whom are 300+ pounds. Miller, Tartt and Rissler all split time at right guard last season, with Rissler getting the start in the final six games.


On the other side of the ball, the Gators are anchored by the linebacker unit composed of Brandon Siler, Earl Everett and Brian Crum. Siler and Everett both started in all 12 games last season. Everett led the team in tackles with 72, while Siler finished second with 64.


To date in 2006, Everett has recorded 31 tackles, while Siler has contributed 27 and Crum has added 12.


The secondary, which consist of free safety Reggie Nelson, strong safety Tony Joiner and corner backs Ryan Smith and Reggie Lewis, has allowed 197.8 passing yards per game and three total touchdowns this season, while intercepting eight passes.


Nelson is the most experienced player in the secondary, recording 46 tackles and one interception last year. He currently leads the team with four interceptions in 2006, while Smith has recorded two picks and Lewis and Joiner have contributed with one interception each.


Florida's defense has recorded 13 sacks so far this season, with tackle Marcus Thomas and end Derrick Harvey leading the way with three sacks each. End Jarvis Moss follows just behind with 2.5 sacks, while end Ray McDonald has recorded two of his own.


Also contributing on the defensive line are tackle Steven Harris and end Joe Cohen.


Thomas, Harris and Cohen were all regular starters in 2005, while Moss and Harvey were the biggest sack producers with 7.5 and six sacks, respectively.


Three of Moss' sacks last season were recorded during the game with LSU.


On special teams for the Gators, place-kicker Chris Hetland has struggled this season, going 0-3 on field goal attempts and missing two of his 19 extra point attempts.


Eric Wilbur has handled punting responsibilities for the third straight season, kicking 15 times this season, with a 41.3-yard average and seven punts landing inside the 20-yard line.


True freshman Brandon James has been Florida's head return man, returning nine punts for 76 yards and five kickoffs for 97 yards on the season.


The Gator special teams has been stingy so far this season, allowing just 3.2 yards per punt return and 15.8 yards per kick return through their first five games.

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