Where: Gainesville, Fla.,
When: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Auburn (2-2) comes to town with the unfortunate distinction of being the only revenge game on Florida's schedule this year. The Tigers gave UF its only loss of 2006, and Urban Meyer said this week the team is looking forward to the chance to avenge that defeat.
The Gators (4-0) are coming off a tougher-than-expected road trip at Ole Miss, but are hoping to extend their 18-game home winning streak. The Gators have won 11 straight overall, and a win Saturday would match the longest winning streak in UF history, set in 1995.
For its part, Auburn is one of the SEC's best road teams. The Tigers have won their last six SEC road games and 12 of the last 13. But Auburn has struggled at times in all four of its games, losing to South Florida and Mississippi State. Last week, New Mexico State kept it close for a half before the Tigers ran away to a 55-20 win.
The Tigers offense has sputtered behind quarterback Brandon Cox, who has thrown six interceptions and only averages 142 passing yards per game. Overall the Tigers are 11th in the SEC with a -3 turnover ratio. They will have to protect the ball better if they are to have any chance against the Gators.
The Auburn defense is third in the league, and they will be called on to somehow slow down the SEC's best offense. Florida is first in the league in scoring offense (49.2 points per game) and total offense (517.8 yards per game).
QB Tim Tebow is coming off an impressive performance against Ole Miss, with 427 yards of total offense, the highest total in the SEC this year and the sixth highest in UF history. Tebow is starting to get mentioned as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate, and continues to live up to the incredible hype surrounding him heading into the season.
To win Saturday, Auburn will have to play its best game of the year so far. Brandon Cox and his fumble-prone running backs will have to protect the ball better, and his offensive line will have to protect Cox better. The defense will need to find a way to contain Tebow without ignoring pass defense responsibilities.
The Florida defense has proved very tough to run against this year (54 yards per game), but has been vulnerable in the passing game (252 yards per game). If Florida can tighten up the pass defense, there should be plenty of opportunities for sacks and an interception or two.
Despite some injuries in the receiving corps, Florida still has enough playmakers to keep the offense churning out yardage and points against the Tigers. Look for Florida to run Tebow less this week, opting for more touches for running backs Kestahn Moore and Jarrod Fayson.
Auburn may be able to keep up for a half, but I see the Gators pulling away in the second half, posting a comfortable win and setting up the big showdown next week against LSU.
Florida Gator Nation Prediction: Florida 34, Auburn 17