A 30-28 loss at Tennessee on Sept. 18 didn't ruin Florida's shot at the SEC Eastern Division title, but it did put the Gators' backs against the wall.
Last year the Gators lost to Tennessee and Ole Miss in two of their first three SEC games, but they came back to win at LSU the next week, triggering a run of five consecutive SEC wins that included a victory over Georgia and forced a three-way tie for the division championship.
The tie-breaker and a spot in the SEC championship game still went to Georgia, so the 12th-ranked Gators know if they want to win the division outright this year they can't afford any more SEC losses, starting with Saturday's home game against No. 24 LSU.
"I told them (after the loss to Tennessee) that we weren't out of it. We're still in this thing," Florida coach Ron Zook said.
"It's a long season. The thing we have to do this week is the same thing we talked about since the Tennessee game. We've got to take care of ourselves, focus on us and being the best we can be."
The Gators can start by taking LSU seriously. The Tigers lost only one game last year when they lost focus and let the struggling Gators pull off a 19-7 surprise in Baton Rouge. The Tigers went on to win the SEC title and a co-national championship.
This year the Tigers are 3-2 after road losses at Auburn and Georgia in the past three weeks, but they remain a dangerous team.
"I think LSU will come in here and play their best game of the year," Zook said.
"Hopefully, our guys are smart enough to know this is a very, very talented football team that's capable of beating anybody they play. It's going to take our 'A' game. I know those guys have a good coaching staff and good players. They can beat anybody they line up against."
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