Will a week off mean trouble for the Tigers?

Updated: October 7, 2003, 11:49 AM ET

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU's bye week, coming five games into the season, gave the No. 6 Tigers time to rest and recuperate.

That's good, coach Nick Saban said.

Now that LSU (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) is preparing for Florida (3-3), Saban will find out if the time off will also have some bad results.

"The question that you always have is, once you get out of your routine of playing week in and week out, how do you focus for playing games?" Saban said. "In some degree you want the players to take a break emotionally, because of the stress of preparing for games, but at the same time they have to refocus and get ready to go again. That is going to be the challenge for us this week."

Along with getting back in game-mode, Saban wants to make sure his players don't look at Florida's problems this year.

The Gators have lost two of their last three games and dropped out of the Top 25. Last week's 20-17 loss to Mississippi was Florida's first home loss to an unranked team in 61 games, dating to 1989, when the same Rebels won 24-19 in the season opener.

But Saban, who downplayed LSU's facing Georgia earlier in the season, reversed psychology this week, warning his players not to look at Florida's struggles.

"There are certain teams in every league and certain teams in the country that have great tradition, and are elite teams in your league, regardless of what their record is or where they are right now, they still have that elite status," Saban said. "When you play against those teams and have success against those teams that is the only way to get to their peer level. Florida certainly has that in our league, and they are the school tradition-wise to have the most success over the last 12 to 15 years."

The Tigers have reason to respect the long time SEC power. Florida has won four of the last five and 13 of the last 15 meetings between the teams.

Last year, however, LSU beat Florida 36-7 in Gainesville.

"That gave us confidence and incentive," said LSU tackle Rodney Reed. "To beat them two times in a row would be quite an accomplishment. Not many people have done that over the years."

Florida has a lot of new players this season, 44 of them have played for the first time, including 14 freshmen.

"They have young players and they've had some trouble," said defensive end Marquise Hill. "But those people all got scholarships to Florida and that doesn't happen unless your good. We know that. We won't take them lightly."

Florida's freshman quarterback Chris Leak is poised and can be dangerous, Saban said. The Gators are averaging 35.3 points per game. Saban said tailbacks DeShawn Wynn and Ran Carthon are impressive runners, and Kelvin Kight is one of the best receivers in the SEC.

That, and history, will keep LSU on track, said tackle Chad Lavalais

"We don't want to get caught up in the media, the BCS, the 5-0, all that," Lavalais said. "I think that's what got some guys last year when we got off to a good start and lost three of the last four. This year, we want to stay focused."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index