The anticipation of the Game of the 21st Century was shot down Saturday as Auburn stunned Florida 20-17.
The Gators enter Tiger Stadium this
week as defending national champions but also as a team vulnerable enough to
lose at home to an opponent that had been whipped by Mississippi State and South
Since Auburn beat Florida by
three points and Mississippi
State beat Auburn by five points and
LSU blanked State by 45, it would seem a 53-point triumph is in order this week
for the top-ranked Tigers against Urban Meyer's crew.
The reality is that the game is now
virtually meaningless for the Tigers as it was in 2003 when Florida topped LSU 19-7 in Baton Rouge and Nick Saban's troops captured
the national title.
The best three teams in the country
right now are LSU, USC and California. The Trojans and Bears will decide
one representative in the BCS title game when USC and Cal tangle on Les Miles'
54th birthday, Nov. 10, at Berkeley. The prediction here is that the
Golden Bears will prevail at home over Pete Carroll's unit, and Cal will play either LSU or Florida for the BCS championship on Jan. 7 in New Orleans.
The winner of the Gators-Tigers
battle this week may wind up playing for the NCAA crown, but only if the victor
also takes the SEC Championship matchup on Dec. 1 in Atlanta. Forget the
infatuation with Kentucky slipping into the game. It's not
going to happen.
Florida must prevail in the remainder of its
games to win it all for the second year in a row, so the game at LSU has great
meaning for Meyer and Co. But for Miles and the Tigers, LSU can lose and lose
big as Saban did in 2003 and still savor a championship in January. The only
challenge a defeat to the Gators would pose for LSU is that it would force LSU
to win its next eight games to repeat the accomplishment of '03.
LSU should be far more relaxed this
Saturday, and the Tigers have the knowledge that they are superior to the
invaders from Gainesville. Florida has become the new Alabama on the LSU schedule with 15 wins in
the last 19 games vs. the Tigers.
Florida has pounded LSU at home ever since
Charlie McClendon departed in 1979 with a 20-3 verdict over the
Here are the LSU-Florida outcomes
in the 13 contests at Tiger Stadium since Mac's exit in 1979.
1981: Florida 24
1983: Florida 31
1985: Florida 20
1987: LSU 13
1989: Florida 16
1991: Florida 17
1993: Florida 58
1995: Florida 28
1997: LSU 28
1999: Florida 31
2001: Florida 44
2003: Florida 19
2005: LSU 21
Total: Florida 336 LSU
Average score: Florida 26 LSU
Record: Florida 10 LSU
Miles is 1-0 vs. the Gators in
Tiger Stadium. There is every reason to believe the worm has turned for LSU
under the brilliance of Miles. Look for the Tigers to pound the defending
national champions into submission this week.
The last time LSU beat Florida by more than a touchdown in Baton Rouge was the
17-point victory in 1979 when the Gators' star player was Chris Collinsworth.
The last occasion for LSU to score more than 30 points in a game vs. Florida was in 1978 when Mac's squad belted Doug Dickey's
club 34-21 in Gainesville.
LSU last tallied more than 30
points at home vs. the Gators in 1977 when the Tigers followed a 77-0 rout of
Rice with a 36-14 whipping of No. 9 Florida.
LSU won four straight times against
its SEC rival from the Sunshine State from 1977-80. In the last 26 games,
19-6-1 vs. the Tigers.
As Miles prepares his charges for
the Oct. 6 clash with the Gators, the coach may borrow a phrase from the great
sage Larry Flynt, who recently outted Louisiana U.S. Sen. David Vitter as a
frequent client of prostitutes.
In the words of the pornographic
publisher, "This is payback, and payback is a bitch."
Jim Engster is the general manager of Louisiana Network and
Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.