Rivalry or big game?


Florida’s Tim Tebow swaggers through the end zone against LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge on Oct. 6, 2007.

Sun file photo
Published: Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 10, 2008 at 12:36 a.m.

Florida and LSU have a long history, dating all the way back to 1937. The two schools have played every season since 1971 and LSU is UF’s permanent partner from the Western Division. The series has featured many memorable games and moments, but is Florida-LSU a rivalry or just a big game? Veteran Sun football writer Robbie Andreu offers 10 reasons why it’s a big game, but not a rivalry.

Facts

LSU at Florida

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV: CBS
Radio: AM-850, 103.7 FM

1. East vs. West

If the Gators and Tigers were in the same division, this could be a Georgia-Florida type rivalry. But these teams are not competing for the same division, which means they tend to forget each other once the game is over. Florida, of course, never forgets what Georgia is doing, and vice versa.

2. Mutual respect

Would UF fans pull for Georgia or Tennessee or FSU in a national title game? Probably not. But they seemed to be pulling hard for the Tigers in their big win over Ohio State last January, just like the LSU fans adopted UF for its win over the Buckeyes the previous year. It’s all about SEC pride, I’d say.

3. Where’s the hate?

The fans from both schools get along OK for the most part. There have been no obvious problems in the stands or around the stadium. They probably don’t care for each other on game day (or the week leading up to the game), but the dislike seems to quickly fade after the final whistle.

4. Few recruiting battles

UF and LSU went head-to-head (pretty much) in a heated battle for Pompano Beach cornerback Patrick Johnson a year ago. But, for the most part, the two schools don’t target too many of the same prospects, especially since the Gators have backed out of the state of Louisiana in recent years.

5. No defining moment

There’s no “Run Lindsay, Run” type moment to define this series. LSU’s upset of No. 1 Florida in 1997 is big, and it led to the goal posts coming down in Tiger Stadium. But it doesn’t go down as one of LSU’s biggest wins. As for huge Florida wins, there have been a few, but none that jump out.

6. Good times in Louisiana

For the most part, the Florida fans associate good times with the state. Florida won its first national championship with a 52-20 rout of FSU in the Superdome. And a lot of Florida fans who travel to the game every other year stay in New Orleans to party, making it one of the most popular road trips.

7. No room at the inn

The Gators already have too many rivalries. When you go down the list, you can go five-deep before considering LSU. There’s Florida State, Tennessee, Georgia, Miami, Auburn, South Carolina. You see the point.

8. Never met in Atlanta

One way to really get a rivalry steaming is to play a game for a championship. The Gators and Tigers have never done that. If these two teams had a record of reaching Atlanta together, this probably would have grown into a rivalry. But they’ve gone to Atlanta separately over the years.

9. Good eats

Let’s face it, the Gators love that Cajun cookin’. Florida fans have even been known to try fried alligator tail on their trips to Louisiana. It tastes like chicken, you know.

10. Domination in the 1990s

Some might say Steve Spurrier ruined any chance of this growing into a big-time rivalry. The Gators dominated the series under Spurrier, winning 10 of 11 games. The lone loss was that upset in 1997. When one team rules like that, it just doesn’t feel like a rivalry.

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