Some rivalries happen because of geography. Some are created through circumstance. Still others are created by the sheer force of ill will.
Count Florida-LSU as the latter.
The two teams have played every year since 1971 but it was hardly considered an in-your-face, no-holds-barred rivalry. Florida’s primary rivals have always been Florida State, Tennessee and Georgia.
But all of that changed last season in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Now these two schools REALLY don’t like one another.
The 2016 game was originally scheduled for Oct. 8 in Gainesville but when the hurricane was moving into the state, Florida officials said the game would have to be rescheduled. LSU asked that the game be played on Sunday, Oct. 9, which was an option some other teams in the South chose. Florida said no because there would not be enough law enforcement to manage the game. The only available date was Nov. 19 when both had non-conference games.
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The whole thing touched off an argument that got a little personal. LSU dug in its heels and said it would not give up a home game and said that if Florida wanted to play on Nov. 19, it would have to come to Baton Rouge. Then it was suggested by LSU people—through the media—that Florida wanted to reschedule the game in order for some defensive linemen to heal up.
This incensed the Florida people and they did little to hide it. So when the Gators won 16-10 on a goal-line stand on the last play of the game, Florida coach Jim McElwain did not hold back.
“They (LSU) got what they deserved. And it should have been worse,” he said.
So let’s just say that when reeling LSU (3-2, 0-1 SEC) shows up at the The Swamp to play Florida (3-1, 3-0) on Saturday the Tigers won’t be welcomed with open arms. And by the way--it's Homecoming at Florida.
MIAMI-FLORIDA STATE FINALLY PLAY--MAYBE
Two interesting aspects of Saturday’s ACC game between Miami (3-0, 1-0) and Florida State (1-2, 1-1) in Tallahassee:
**--The two teams were originally scheduled to play in prime time on Sept. 16 but the game had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Irma. Now it will be regionally broadcast on ABC (3:30 p.m.). At least we think it will.
As of Thursday tropical depression Nate was building out in the gulf and is projected to pass over Tallahassee, perhaps as early as Sunday. Stay tuned.
**--Miami, at No. 12 in the AP Poll, is ranked and Florida State, which barely escaped with a 26-19 win over Wake Forest last Saturday, is not. The Seminoles started the season as the nation’s No. 3 team before losing to Alabama and N.C. State. They also lost quarterback D’Andre Francois for the season in the Alabama game.
Miami has lost seven straight games to the Seminoles. It would be a huge win for Mark Richt, the Hurricanes’ second-year coach.
“They’ll be ready to go and we will too,” Richt told The Miami Herald.
AGGIES MOMENT OF TRUTH
If not for a 34-point collapse against UCLA, Texas A&M (4-1, 2-0) would be undefeated as No. 1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0) arrives at College Station. But for the past two years the Alabama game has been the “Moment of Truth” for the Aggies.
Here’s what we mean: Over the past two seasons Texas A&M has entered the Alabama game with a combined record of 11-0. In those same two years the Aggies have finished with a record of 5-10 after playing Alabama.
And here’s the rub. Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis says this Alabama offense, which has outscored its first two SEC opponents 125-3, is one of the best he’s seen.
“Their quarterback (Jalen Hurts) has matured even more and he was pretty mature last year,” said Chavis. “Alabama is a well-oiled machine.”
WILLIAMS RETURNS TO PLAY AGAINST SOUTH CAROLINA
**--Last season David Williams was the No. 3 a running back on a South Carolina team that went to a bowl. In the offseason Williams, a four-star recruit from Philadelphia, got his degree. He also asked South Carolina coach Will Muschamp for his release to play his final year elsewhere.
Williams originally planned to attend Connecticut, which is closer to home. But then Arkansas lost its leading rusher, Rawleigh Williams III, to an injury on the last day of spring practice (April 29).
Coach Bret Bielema reached out to see if Williams was interested in playing at Arkansas. He was and to Muschamp’s credit he released Williams, knowing South Carolina would play Arkansas at home on Oct. 7.
“David is a good young man,” Muschamp told The State Newspaper in Columbia. “He did everything we asked when he was here.”
This season Williams has 203 yards for the Razorbacks.
**--Auburn (4-1, 2-0) has the only defense in the country that has held all five of its opponents to 14 points or less. That includes No. 2 Clemson, which beat Auburn 14-6 on Sept. 9. Auburn hosts Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1), which averages 27.8 points per game and was averaging 36 points before a 66-3 loss to Alabama.
**--Alabama has beaten its last two opponents—Vanderbilt and Ole Miss—by 59 and 63 points respectively. If Alabama beats Texas A&M by 50, it would be only the sixth team in history to beat three straight opponents by half-a-hundred. Alabama is a 25-point favorite on the road.
**--In his last three games Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham has completed 58 of 70 passes (82.8 percent) for 846 yards and three touchdowns. This season Stidham has thrown seven completions for 46 yards or more.
**--No. 2 Clemson (5-0, 3-0) picked up nine more first-place votes in Sunday’s Associated Press media poll. No. 1 Alabama has 44 first-place votes. Clemson has a chance to start 6-0 for the third straight season. That would tie a school record.
**--If Florida scores against LSU it will mark the 366th consecutive game that the Gators have not been shut out. That would set the NCAA record. Florida has been held scoreless since an Oct. 29, 1988 game against Auburn.
**--Vanderbilt, which beat Georgia 17-16 last season in Athens, hasn’t beaten the Bulldogs in consecutive seasons since 1957-58.