Louisiana-Lafayette-Florida Preview

The Associated Press

Done with conference play, Florida will need some outside help to receive a berth in the SEC championship game.

While they'll be hoping for their Eastern Division co-leader to slip up in the next two weeks, the seventh-ranked Gators will try to shore up some offensive issues when they host a couple of seemingly overmatched opponents, beginning with Louisiana-Lafayette in Saturday's homecoming game.

Florida (8-1) clinched at least a share of the SEC East with last Saturday's sluggish 14-7 win over Missouri. To get to the league title game, though, it needs No. 5 Georgia to lose to either Mississippi on Saturday or Auburn next week.

"I took this job understanding fully the expectation is to go to Atlanta and win a championship," Gators coach Will Muschamp said. "I've made my comment about how I feel about our season if that's not accomplished. We've made strides, but we're not where we want to be."

The offense certainly isn't playing at a championship-caliber level, averaging 241.7 yards in the last three games.

After turning the ball over six times in a 17-9 loss to the Bulldogs on Oct. 27, Florida converted just 2 of 13 third-down attempts and struggled to get much going against the Tigers. Jeff Driskel completed 12 of 23 passes for 106 yards, with 45 of those coming on a screen pass to Mike Gillislee that went for the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Gillislee finished with 68 yards rushing and is averaging 62.3 yards on the ground in the last four contests after averaging 109.6 in the first five.

"We're not scoring 60 points a game, so obviously we're all upset," Muschamp said. "I want to score 60 too, but I want to win first of all and that's what's important."

The Gators would seem to have a good chance at winning and getting their offense on track in the next two weeks.

After facing a Louisiana-Lafayette team that has allowed at least 500 yards in half of its eight games, Florida hosts Jacksonville State next weekend before concluding the season at No. 8 Florida State. The Gators are 44-4 against non-conference teams in Gainesville since 1996, with the lone defeats coming to Florida State and Miami.

The Ragin' Cajuns (5-3) have found success behind an offense that averages 35.0 points and 435.5 yards, but they've yet to play a defense as formidable as Florida's.

Led by tackle Sharrif Floyd, linebacker Jonathan Bostic and Matt Elam and Josh Evans in the secondary, the Gators are fourth in the FBS in scoring defense at 12.1 points, fifth in total defense at 286.9 yards and tied for sixth with 15 interceptions. Evans' interception in the end zone with five seconds remaining sealed last week's win.

The defense, which has allowed just three touchdowns in five home games, will be focused on frustrating quarterback Terrance Broadway.

"They do a good job with the quarterback as far as some of the gun runs that they employ and they've got a lot of speed at the skill positions," Muschamp said. "They move the ball against everybody they play."

Broadway threw for 373 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 87 yards and another score in last Saturday's 40-24 win over Louisiana-Monroe. The sophomore is averaging 399.0 yards of total offense in the last three games after averaging 149.4 in the first five.

"Terrance has played well this year, but Saturday's game was his coming out party," coach Mark Hudspeth told the Ragin' Cajuns' official website. "He was phenomenal."

Hudspeth will likely need a similar performance from Broadway for Louisiana-Lafayette to end a 15-game losing streak to ranked opponents since beating No. 25 Texas A&M 29-22 in 1996. The Ragin' Cajuns have allowed an average of 56.3 points in their last four versus Top 25 foes.

The Gators are 4-0 all-time against Louisiana-Lafayette, winning the most recent meeting 55-21 in 1996.

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