COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF

The Rubber match


Published: Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 2:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 2:02 p.m.
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Florida QB Chris Leak and the Gators handed LSU its only loss of the season a year ago.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
With the upcoming season approaching, GatorSports.com takes you inside all 11 Gator football games. From key matchups to x-factors, GatorSports.com gives you the details on the Gators and all their opponents. Gainesville Sun sports writer Robbie Andreu and Cody Swann from GatorSports.com predict the score of each game and how it will happen. Check back each day at about 1 p.m. until Sept. 4 when the Gators kick off the season. Or catch a glimpse of all the matchups.
Week 6: Florida vs. LSU

Last time out: LSU quarterback Matt Mauck will not be remembered as the most gifted quarterback. In fact, outside of Baton Rouge, he may not be remembered at all. But Mauck possessed uncanny leadership ability, which helped guide the Tigers (13-1, 8-1) to an SEC and national championship. By the time the game with Florida rolls around, Marcus Randall, JaMarcus Russell or Matt Flynn will have emerged as Mauck's successor. Mauck struggled against the Gators last season. Whoever of the three replace him must play more soundly against Florida. The Gators, too, will be relying on some inexperienced players against LSU. Tigers sophomore running back Justin Vincent is one of the best in the SEC. With inexperience at the quarterback position, LSU coach Nick Saban will do everything he can to keep the ball on the ground. Florida is undergoing a major overhaul to its front seven, but this unit must be able to limit LSU's ground attack, led by Vincent, to be able to stay in this game.

Key players: LSU quarterback Matt Mauck will not be remembered as the most gifted quarterback. In fact, outside of Baton Rouge, he may not be remembered at all. But Mauck possessed uncanny leadership ability, which helped guide the Tigers (13-1, 8-1) to an SEC and national championship. By the time the game with Florida rolls around, Marcus Randall, JaMarcus Russell or Matt Flynn will have emerged as Mauck's successor. Mauck struggled against the Gators last season. Whoever of the three replace him must play more soundly against Florida. The Gators, too, will be relying on some inexperienced players against LSU. Tigers sophomore running back Justin Vincent is one of the best in the SEC. With inexperience at the quarterback position, LSU coach Nick Saban will do everything he can to keep the ball on the ground. Florida is undergoing a major overhaul to its front seven, but this unit must be able to limit LSU's ground attack, led by Vincent, to be able to stay in this game.

Key stats: Whether it's Jones or a running back, the Hogs heavily rely on the run, and they do a good job of stopping it, too. In 2003, Arkansas rushed for 34 touchdowns while holding opponents to 14. In five games against Arkansas, the Gators are 4-1. Florida's only lose to the Razorbacks was in 1982 when Arkansas won 38-24 in Houston for the Bluebonnet Bowl.

X-Factor: LSU cornerback Corey Webster should be in the NFL now, but he chose to come back for another year after breaking up 25 passes and picking off seven last year. In 2002, he altered the course of the game by picking off three Rex Grossman passes and returning one for a touchdown. Webster won't be unhappy about playing in The Swamp again.

Predictions: The Gators began turning around their 2003 season with the huge upset in Baton Rouge last fall, LSU's only loss on the way to winning the national title. The Tigers will pull this game out in the fourth quarter to get their revenge: LSU 24, Florida 22.
- Robbie Andreu
This game has gone back and forth the past two years with each team taking one on the opponent's turf. LSU's team speed will make that trend continue: LSU 26, Florida 13
-Cody Swann

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