(AP) — LSU and Florida typically are ranked when they renew their annual rivalry.
This time around, though, both the Gators and Tigers will be sitting outside the Top 25 when they square off in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday in a battle of two teams still trying to find their footing under nAw head coaches.
LSU (4-2, 2-1 SEC) is in its first season under former Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, while Florida (4-2, 1-2) is now under the direction of former Louisiana head coach Billy Napier.
The Tigers had won four in a row and were ranked No. 25 before losing in a 40-13 rout at home to then-No. 8 Tennessee last Saturday.
“We’re right in the middle of the process,” Kelly said. “We’re working at it every single day, and it’s a journey. I’m excited to be on it.”
LSU has dug itself an early hole in all three SEC games. Against Tennessee, the Tigers lost a fumble on the opening kickoff, which led to a touchdown, and they trailed 20-0 in the second quarter. Jayden Daniels’ 300 passing yards weren’t never enough for LSU.
“We certainly can’t start the way we did,” Kelly said. “The great part about it is you get to flip the script and get back to work, which we do that (Monday) and get ready for a trip to Gainesville and a very difficult place to play on the road.”
The Gators gave Napier his first SEC win when they held off visiting Missouri 24-17 last Saturday. Montrell Johnson Jr. ran for 86 yards and a touchdown on eight carries to pace Florida.
Like Kelly, Napier stressed that the Gators are in the early stages of establishing a new version of the program.
“You probably would have taken 4-2 at this point in the season,” he said. “How we got to this point is the problem. We have not executed our formula to win games at the rate at which we desire at any point. I think we are very much a work in progress.
“(Still) I’m proud of the intangibles that we’ve developed with this group of players. Every day I’m here, the more I’m confident about what we can accomplish.”
The Gators possess a 33-32-3 edge in the all-time series with the Tigers, but LSU has won the past three matchups.
–Field Level Media