Come Saturday, No. 10 LSU will be tested by arguably its first opponent of 2013 whose defense is deserving of SEC praise—Florida.
And the Gators will certainly have redemption on their minds following a lackluster performance two years in Baton Rouge, La., that ended in a 38-10 loss to the Tigers.
Muschamp on using 2011 blowout loss at LSU as motivation:"Everybody motivates differently. If you're a competitor, it should. I know I will"— Cody Jones (@CJonesScout) October 7, 2013
It'll surely be a game of differing identities and strengths.
LSU ranks atop the SEC in almost every statistical category, including total yards, while Florida boasts arguably the best defense in the country despite the absence of Dominique Easley.
Consider this: LSU leads the SEC with 75 pass plays of 10 yards or more, while Florida leads the league allowing just 27 such plays.
Certainly, Saturday's game remains a critical step in both team's drive to win the SEC.
Florida has yet to face a passing offense capable of stretching the field vertically, minus the Gators' contest versus the Hurricanes on Sept. 8. Florida surrendered 162 passing yards and two scores, including a 52-yard touchdown.
With the likely return of cornerback Marcus Roberson, who has been hobbled by a persistent knee injury, Florida will stand a better chance versus a wildly productive LSU passing offense led by quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the Tigers are averaging 45.5 points per game, almost two touchdowns more than the team averaged last season under then-coordinator Greg Studrawa.
Not coincidentally, Mettenberger has thrown for 1,738 yards and 15 passing touchdowns, the most through the first six games in school history.
Gators LB Antonio Morrison on LSU's Zach Mettenberger: "He's made great strides. He's throwin' it. Looks like an NFL quarterback."— Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) October 8, 2013
With go-to targets in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry—who rank third and fourth in the SEC in receiving yards, respectively—LSU has proved to be explosive throughout 2013.
Fortunately for Florida, however, secondary help isn't hard to come by.
#Gators pass defense giving up just 47-130 (36.2%) for 596 yards (4.6 yards per target) on passes thrown at or past line of scrimmage.— Thomas Goldkamp (@Goldkamp247) October 9, 2013
Loucheiz Purifoy is coming off a productive showing versus Arkansas last Saturday, and playing opposite of him is freshman Vernon Hargreaves III, who leads the team with three interceptions through five games.
In 2013, the Gators are allowing just 149 passing yards per game, a trend that has stayed relatively consistent since Florida last played LSU.
Zach Mettenberger was a robust 11 of 25 for 158 yards and an interception against UF last year.— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) October 7, 2013
Regardless of the outcome, Saturday's game will be a tale of polar opposites. Smashmouth versus finesse. An unstoppable force versus an immovable object. And above all else, it'll be one hell of a game.