ATLANTA (AP) - Auburn took the luster off what many expected to be the first of two showdowns between Florida and LSU this season - the first in Tiger Stadium Saturday night, the second in the Georgia Dome for the SEC championship after the regular season ends.
Granted, it's still possible that those two teams could meet for the conference crown in Atlanta on Dec. 1, but an LSU victory would put the defending national champions in a precarious position in the SEC East with two losses.
Auburn beat the Gators 20-17 in Gainesville last Saturday night. The Tigers from Alabama still have a game with the Tigers from Louisiana in two weeks.
LSU finds itself ranked No. 1 in the nation after last week's wild Saturday involving Top Ten teams. The Tigers struggled in the afternoon to beat Tulane, but No. 1 Southern Cal was even less impressive in beating Washington Saturday night.
Meanwhile Florida dropped to No. 9 in the polls from No. 4, and the Gators are a 9-point underdog at LSU.
"How are we going to respond?" Gator coach Urban Meyer wondered after the Auburn loss. "Obviously, I don't have that answer. I feel like there's a lot of character on this team and some good people."
Coach Les Miles wasn't pleased with his Tigers play either.
"We can't afford to play that that anymore for any length of time, wheter it is a half or whatever," Miles said. "We played without the focus or intensity we are capable of."
Both teams have offensive standouts, but LSU appears to be more loaded defensively. LSU 17-10.
Elsewhere around the SEC this week, with Tennessee having an open date:
Houston (plus 10½) at Alabama: Alabama will have its hands full with Donnie Avery, one of the top receivers in the nation. The Cougars are 0-9 in the series, and Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson will make sure it reaches 10 Bama triumphs. Alabama 27-13.
Chattanooga at Arkansas at Little Rock: The Razorbacks will fill War Memorial Stadium for their first appearance in Little Rock this season. It is their first meeting with the Scrappy Mocs, and it won't be pretty. Darren McFadden and Felix Jones will have some hefty rushing numbers. Arkansas 49-7.
Vanderbilt (plus 7½) at Auburn: The Commodores are looking for their first victory over Auburn since 1955, a stretch that includes 12 losses in a row. The Tigers may be ripe for an upset after knocking off Florida last week, and Vandy has his best shot at victory in a long time. Nevertheless, it's ... Auburn. 24-17.
No. 12 Georgia (plus 1) at Tennessee: "We have had success in the past on the road and I hope we can continue that." said Georgia coach Mark Richt. Has he ever been successful on the road, especially at an opponent's home field. Neutral sites haven't been as good for the Dogs, but they are 23-3 in the opponent's stadium under Richt. It looks like a trend. Georgia 28-24.
No. 8 Kentucky (plus 3½) at No. 11 South Carolina, Thursday night: The Gamecocks are riding a 7-game winning streak in this series and their highly-rated pass defense will get a workout from Kentucky flinger Andre Woodson, one of the nation's top-ranked quarterbacks. South Carolina 24-21.
Louisiana Tech (plus 13) at Mississippi: Seth Adams should have a blast picking apart the Bulldogs' porous pass defense. Ole Miss 28-10.
UAB (plus 19) at Mississippi State: Sylvester Croom will get a fourth victory in a season for the first time since taking over at State in 2004. It will mark the first time the Bulldogs have won four of their first six games since 2000. Mississippi State 28-14.
Last week's totals: 6-2 straight, 2-6 vs. spread. For year: 34-9 straight, 16-20 vs. spread.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)