That quarterback is junior Thad Busby, and he will be the Seminoles' key to ending Stoops' honeymoon, providing Busby's not hampered by a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee; he suffered the injury last Saturday in a 48-10 victory over Maryland. Busby is a 6'3", 220-pound former high school All-America with a good arm and decent feet who has suffered in comparison with his two most recent predecessors. He is neither as versatile as Ward nor as classic as Danny Kanell, who was a superb pocket passer, but possesses qualities of both. However, because Busby earned the starting job only this year, he is still learning, still growing, still inconsistent. "A first-year quarterback," says Bowden, resignedly.
When Busby is off, he fails to throw the ball away to avoid sacks or he locks onto receivers and forces throws into coverage. Against North Carolina, which runs a defense very similar to Florida's, he completed only nine passes for 65 yards and tossed two interceptions. Against Georgia Tech, another team with a solid defense, Busby completed only 11 of 22 passes and was intercepted three times. He has been at his best against weaker defenses—and Florida's D is certainly not weak. Count on Stoops to bring the house down on him, to put him under as much pressure as Wuerffel will face, making it imperative that he find Dunn on flares and shovel passes. Busby is the only player on the field who must play the best game of his career for his team to win.
5. The memory of 62-24
There has been a fierce purpose to the Gators' season, driven by thoughts of a brilliant 1995 season that turned into an embarrassment in Tempe. "They appear to believe in themselves more this year than a year ago," says LSU coach Gerry DiNardo. It's a small edge in a big game, but small things count for much. Wuerffel is a little too good for Boulware and Wilson to crush. Florida's defense is a little too) good for Busby and Dunn. In the end Florida will not only own the state and the rivalry, but also stand a little bit closer to redemption.