Auburn coach Terry Bowden is as anxious as anyone to see how No. 7 Florida reacts after a loss.
“Does it make ‘em madder, more aggressive, more serious?” Bowden asked Wednesday. “Or does it make ‘em think about themselves, do they doubt their ability to win close games?
“The loss will affect them, not us. We know we’re playing one of the best teams in the country.”
The Gators (5-1, 3-1 SEC) dropped from the No. 1 ranking after a 28-21 loss at LSU last Saturday. Auburn (6-0, 3-0) moved up two spots to No. 6 with a 49-13 win over Louisiana Tech.
The Tigers may be sky-high for Saturday’s game at Jordan-Hare Stadium (CBS, 12:30 p.m.), but under coach Steve Spurrier, the Gators have a way of coming up big following a loss.
Florida State beat Florida 24-21 last season, ending the Gators’ bid for a perfect season. No problem. Florida outclassed Alabama 45-30 in the SEC title game the next week, then clobbered the Seminoles 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl for its first national title.
The last time the Gators lost two straight was in 1992 - when it happened twice.
“We always think we’re going to play well,” Spurrier said. “We certainly don’t think we’re the greatest in the world anymore. We got leveled down to an average team. If we don’t play well and play hard, we’re very beatable.”
While Florida has to get its offense going again - Spurrier may use backup Jesse Palmer at quarterback - the Gators’ defense will have its hands full with Dameyune Craig.
The Heisman Trophy contender set a school record last week with his fourth straight 300-yard passing game. Craig, with his own web site citing 10 reasons “DC should go to NYC” for the Heisman presentation, has 1,870 yards and 13 TDs passing and 101 yards and two TDs rushing.
Minnesota (plus 34) at No. 1 Penn State: Now that Curtis Enis is warmed up… . PENN STATE 45-14.
Texas Tech (plus 37) at No. 2 Nebraska: Another four-TD game for Ahman Green? Sure… . NEBRASKA 52-10.
No. 21 Georgia Tech (plus 23) at No. 3 Florida State: Are the Seminoles really playing a decent team? … FLORIDA STATE 41-20.
No. 4 North Carolina (minus 12) at North Carolina State: Tar Heels known to slip up at inopportune times… . NORTH CAROLINA STATE 24-20.
No. 15 Iowa (minus 7) at No. 5 Michigan: Wolverines allowing 5.2 points per game; Hawkeyes scoring 45.6 per… . MICHIGAN 30-17.
No. 7 Florida (minus 11-1/2) at No. 6 Auburn: Auburn QB Dameyune Craig’s benchmark game… . AUBURN 31-30.
Mississippi (plus 16) at No. 8 LSU: If Tigers can shut down Florida’s offense, what will they do vs. Rebels? … LSU 31-10.
No. 9 Tennessee (minus 9) at Alabama: Vols have new hope for SEC title after Florida’s loss at LSU… . TENNESSEE 27-24.
No. 10 Washington (minus 12) at Arizona: Huskies putting all the pieces together… .
Indiana (plus 34-1/2) at No. 11 Ohio State: Despite 378 yards passing vs. Penn State, Joe Germaine remains Buckeyes backup… . . OHIO STATE 49-13.
No. 12 Michigan State (minus 13) at Northwestern: Spartans looking at 6-0 mark before next week’s showdown vs. Michigan… . MICHIGAN STATE 33-13.
California (plus 17) at No. 13 Washington State: The Leaf campaign picks up steam after a week off… . WASHINGTON STATE 42-21.
No. 14 Texas A&M; (minus 1) at No. 20 Kansas State: Aggies lead nation in scoring at 46.6 points per game… . TEXAS A&M; 35-23.
Oregon State (plus 21-1/2) at No. 17 UCLA: Scoring rampage continues for Bruins… . UCLA 52-21.
Fresno State (plus 12) at No. 18 Air Force: Bulldogs blew 28-point halftime lead in ‘96… . AIR FORCE 21-7.
No. 19 Georgia (minus 11) at Vanderbilt: These Bulldogs rebound nicely after loss at Tennessee… . GEORGIA 31-14.
No. 24 Wisconsin (plus 2) at Purdue: Boilermakers’ high-octane offense too much for Badgers… . PURDUE 45-34.
Arizona State (plus 1-1/2) at No. 25 Stanford: Two Sun Devil QBs may be better than one Cardinal… . ARIZONA STATE 34-31.
Last week: 13-5 (straight); 9-10 (spread). Season: 100-24 (straight); 64-55-1 (spread).