GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When Florida and LSU face off, the two teams usually make for a great football game.
The permanent cross-divison opponents had a thrilling matchup last year, with the No. 6 Tigers scoring on a fake field goal in the fourth quarter to beat the No. 8 Gators, 35-28.
UF coach Jim McElwain is embracing his return to Death Valley this Saturday when his 21st-ranked Gators take on No. 16 LSU.
“There’s going to be rough moments,” McElwain said. “I don’t know how they could call my mother names. My mother is 95 years old, she’s awesome. She’s one of the most loving, caring people in the world.
“And they they’re going to say everything they can about my mother. That’s what it’s all about. It will be fun.”
Here are the top five games of the Florida-LSU rivalry.
1997: No. 1 Florida at No. 14 LSU
Florida came in with a nine-game winning streak over LSU and had beaten them 56-13 the year before. UF was the defending national champions and a heavy favorite to beat the Tigers, but they jumped out to a two-touchdown lead and held on for a 28-21 win. Gators quarterback Doug Johnson was intercepted four times and did not throw a touchdown pass, snapping Florida’s NCAA-record streak of 62 straight games with at least one score through the air. It was Steve Spurrier’s only loss to LSU with the Gators.
2003: Florida at No. 6 LSU
In Ron Zook’s first season at Florida, the Tigers beat UF convincingly (36-7) and won their first game in The Swamp since 1986. Florida was 3-3 going into the 2003 game and had lost two of its last three games. But after falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter at LSU, the Gators found their groove and scored 19 unanswered points to give Zook his first big win. True freshman quarterback Chris Leak overcame six sacks to throw for 229 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers went on to win the 2003 national championship, with UF handing them their only class.
2007: No. 9 Florida at No. 1 LSU
The Gators and Tigers had four memorable games during the Tim Tebow years, but the 2007 contest was the best of the bunch. LSU was ranked No. 1 in the regular season for the first time since 1959 and UF had the star quarterback in Tebow, who would become the first sophomore player to win the Heisman Trophy in 2007. The Gators had a 24-14 lead going into the fourth quarter, but LSU converted five fourth-down attempts and pulled off a 28-24 comeback victory. The Tigers won the program’s third national title that season.
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2010: No. 12 LSU at No. 14 Florida
The Gators were in need of a bounce-back win following their 31-6 loss at Alabama the week before. But LSU ended its three-game losing streak against UF with some Les Miles magic. The Tigers lined up for a game-tying, 52-yard attempt with 35 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. But Miles caught Florida off guard with a fake field goal, though it wasn’t your typical trick play. The holder threw a no-look pass over his head that bounced into the hands of kicker Josh Jasper, who ran for the first down. LSU scored the go-ahead touchdown with 6 seconds left and won 33-29. UF coach Urban Meyer resigned after the Gators lost five of their final eight regular-season games in 2010.
2012: No. 4 LSU at No. 10 Florida
Meyer was replaced by Will Muschamp, who went 7-6 in his first season and was looking for a marquee win in 2012. It would come against the Tigers, who were heavily favored to beat Florida despite the game being a top-10 matchup. The Gators trailed 6-0 at halftime, but running back Mike Gillislee ran for a career-high 146 yards and scored two touchdowns in the second half to lead UF to a 14-6 win. Florida’s defense proved to be more physical than the Tigers and held them to 42 yards rushing. It was Muschamp’s first win over a ranked team and propelled the Gators to an 11-1 regular season record and a Sugar Bowl berth.