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Florida Owns the East, but Definitely Not the West

Since the SEC split into divisions in 1992, Florida has been the premier program of the East division. The Gators have won nine division championships, while Tennessee has won five and Georgia has taken just three. In addition, UF has absolutely owned the rest of the East in head-to-head competition:

Opponent UF Record
Georgia 14-3
Kentucky 17-0
South Carolina 16-1
Tennessee 12-5
Vanderbilt 17-0
Overall 76-9 (.894)

That's nine losses to division foes in 17 seasons. Only one year—the ill fated 2004 campaign—has seen Florida lose two division games in a single season, and one of those losses (by a single touchdown to Georgia) came the very week the head coach was fired. Put it this way: Florida has the same number of East division titles as it does East division losses. Think about that for a second. For comparison, Tennessee has had nine East losses since 2005 and Georgia has had nine since 2004.

The West division is a different story, however. The last time Florida went a perfect 3-0 against the West was in 1998, when Bill Clinton was still in the White House and Internet access for most people involved a noisy wait before connecting. In fact, that is one of only three seasons (along with the perfect 8-0 years of 1995-96) where UF won all of its games against the West.

Here's a look at Florida's head-to-head records against SEC West teams. Florida's designated West "rival" is LSU, and back when teams had two designated rivals, Auburn was the other team. This only includes regular season games and omits SEC title games.

Opponent UF Record
Alabama 2-2
Arkansas 5-0
Auburn 8-5
LSU 12-5
Mississippi St. 3-3
Ole Miss 3-3
Overall 33-18 (.647)

Florida has done just fine against Arkansas and for the most part LSU, but things begin to fall off with Auburn. The 3-3 records against the Mississippi schools are the most puzzling since Florida has been a better program nearly every time they've played. That includes an 0-3 mark in Starkville, where the Gators haven't beaten the home Bulldogs since 1985. Granted, the losing streak only encompasses four games, but that is an awfully long time. In all, 12 of the 19 losses have come away from Gainesville.

This season, UF gets games at LSU and Mississippi State along with a home match against Arkansas. One would figure that the losing streak at Mississippi State will end this year with the enormous talent disparity between the two teams. A win at Arkansas at home also would appear likely, what with Florida's historic success both at home and against Arkansas, plus the fact that the Razorbacks are not quite there yet as an SEC contender.

The game at LSU definitely has the highest probability of an SEC West loss for Florida. Urban Meyer has yet to win at LSU, and the Tigers are expected by some to contend for and even win the West. It will be the nightcap of a CBS doubleheader, and Death Valley after dark is a nasty place to be for visitors.

The Cocktail Party against Georgia figures to be a tough task, and those who say FSU will be back in the realms of the elite this year (for what, the fifth year running now?) might point to Tim Tebow's final home game as a potential loss. However, it would certainly seem from a historical point that the biggest trap waiting for Florida is October 11 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.