From CBS today:
No. 4 Gators ready to tackle another big rivalry game
Nov. 22, 2006
CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Urban Meyer refers to Florida State as the "school out west" or simply uses the tomahawk chop when talking about the in-state rival.
It might seem trivial, but it means a lot to his players.
"When it comes to our rivals, he just gets us pumped up," offensive tackle Phil Trautwein said. "He has a lot of emotion for that. That fires us up and gets us ready to play hard."
Meyer's motivational tactics have proven to be successful in rivalry games. The fourth-ranked Gators (10-1) are 5-0 against their three rivals -- Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State -- the last two seasons under Meyer.
They can improve to 6-0 and make history Saturday against the Seminoles (6-5) in Tallahassee, because no Florida team ever has beaten all three opponents in consecutive seasons.
"It's big for us, man. It's big," linebacker Brandon Siler said. "Right now, we really feel like our time was the time that turned the program back around, and it feels good. It's a relief from kind of not living up to expectations to now living up to them.
"You can walk around campus with your chest held a little higher. You can look at people. They know that you're a Gator football player, and it means a lot. So it's real big."
Meyer has emphasized rivalry games since his arrival.
He created the "Gator Experience," where former players from Florida's championship teams return and address players on the field or in team meetings. He asks each former player to talk about one of Florida's three rivals, then shows a 15-minute highlight tape of previous games.
Linebacker James Bates, running back Errict Rhett, offensive lineman Donnie Young and NFL Hall of Fame defensive lineman Jack Youngblood are among the former players who have shared their experiences with the team.
"One of the unique characteristics of this job is you have some great rivalries," Meyer said. "A lot of schools have one, some have none. We have three terrific ones."
Former coach Steve Spurrier always said Georgia was Florida's biggest rival, mostly because the Bulldogs prevented the Gators from winning numerous Southeastern Conference championships over the years. Although Meyer agrees beating Tennessee and Georgia is key, he believes defeating the Seminoles means more in the state.
"I think it's big for recruiting," Meyer said. "Obviously, it keeps the Gator Nation somewhat happy. I think it is very important. I think in this state probably more than any other. Notre Dame-USC I don't think is a big recruiting war. Ohio State-Michigan is. I imagine Alabama-Auburn is a lot like that for the in-state kid. For the in-state player, this is a tremendously big game."
The Gators beat Florida State 20-13 in Tallahassee in 2004, winning there for the first time since 1986. They made it two in a row last year with a 34-7 victory in Gainesville. It gave Florida its first sweep against Tennessee, Georgia and Florida State since 1995.
Florida has kept the streak going this season, edging the Volunteers 21-20 in September and knocking off the Bulldogs 21-14 six weeks later. Can the Gators make it six in a row, with a win against that "school out west"?
Meyer isn't trying to be disrespectful by not referring to Florida State by name.
"I think that's another way to make young people appreciate a rivalry. It's just part of the deal," he said. "I think our players enjoy it. In the era I grew up in, you never said the other word. It's just something we do. No disrespect."
The Associated Press News Service
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