Road doesn't seem to bother Florida

Updated: October 17, 2003, 1:56 PM ET

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- There's been no place like home for Arkansas in the Houston Nutt years. There's been no place like the road for Florida.

The Razorbacks are 31-6 in games played in Arkansas since Nutt became coach before the 1998 season. The Gators have lost only four Southeastern Conference road games over the same period.

"Our guys have been fortunate to go on the road and play hard," Florida coach Ron Zook said. "Our guys are looking forward to going to Arkansas. They understand that this is a big game."

With a victory, Florida (4-3, 2-2 SEC) can keep hope alive for a possible SEC East title. A third loss in the conference would likely dash that dream.

No. 11 Arkansas (4-1, 1-1 SEC) dropped a game last Saturday to Auburn, a team it hoped to challenge in the SEC West race. While a second loss wouldn't kill the Razorbacks' chances at returning to Atlanta for a second consecutive SEC title game, they would need lots of help.

"You just want to get them back out there, get them playing the way we know they can play," Nutt said.

Since the Southeastern Conference added Arkansas and South Carolina to the league, Florida has compiled a 41-9 on-the-road record, including 20-4 over the past five-years-plus.

Last weekend, Florida went to Baton Rouge, La., and upset No. 6 LSU 19-7. Saturday, the Gators play a team which has never defeated Florida in a conference game.

"Every game is big and (beating LSU) means nothing if we don't go to Arkansas and play the way we are capable," Zook said.

Center Mike Degory said the Gators have a sharp focus while on the road.

"Sometimes when you play at home you can get distracted," Degory said. "I like to play on the road. There is nothing like playing at home at 'The Swamp,' but I kind of like being the hated guy."

Arkansas is currently fourth in the SEC West, behind Auburn (3-0), Ole Miss (2-0) and LSU (2-1) -- all of whom must still play each other. Beating Florida while waiting for the Tigers, Rebels and Tigers to beat up on each other could make last week's loss just an inconsequential speed bump.

"Our guys came back with good senior leadership. They bounced around and there's nothing like getting back on the practice field after a tough, disappointing loss," Nutt said. "We're looking forward to this week."

Florida and Arkansas have played four times, with Arkansas winning the first game, 28-24, in the 1982 Bluebonnet Bowl. In SEC games, Florida beat the Razorbacks 34-3 in the 1995 SEC championship game and 42-7 and 56-7 in regular season games the next two years.

Last year, Arkansas represented the SEC West after tying Auburn and LSU for the division title.

"I know Arkansas won the West last year and went to Atlanta. If you ask anybody in the West about them, they wouldn't say they are an afterthought. They are a talented, well coached football team," Zook said.

Arkansas leads the SEC in rushing, with 232.8 yards per game, and Cedric Cobbs is the SEC's top running back, with 128 yards per game. Florida last week shut down LSU's running game and hopes to force Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones into situations where he has to throw.

"I know if we keep the front seven together and stop the run, the other team will go three and out," said linebacker Channing Crowder, who returned to the team last week after arthroscopic surgery on a knee.

Florida will be trying to win two games in a row for the first time this season. Each victory has been followed by a loss.

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