BATON ROUGE, La. -- Defensive backs from Florida and LSU got into a social-media sparring match over the summer regarding which school truly deserves the title "DBU" or "Defensive Back University."
Both schools have proud traditions in the secondary, typically ranking among the nation's top pass defenses and regularly churning out NFL stars like Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu from LSU or Joe Haden from Florida. And those traditions will only continue, with future NFL players -- Florida's Vernon Hargreaves could be a top-10 pick in next year's draft, and LSU's Jamal Adams, Tre'Davious White and Kevin Toliver all seem likely to become early-round selections someday -- set to man starting positions when No. 6 LSU (5-0, 3-0 SEC) hosts No. 8 Florida (6-0, 4-0) on Saturday.
Obviously this won't be a head-to-head matchup between secondaries, but it will represent their best opportunity to make this point while they occupy the same field: The championship belt belongs to us, no matter what you say on Twitter.
Regardless of how they've branded themselves, perhaps neither of these programs truly deserves the "DBU" label. According to a "Position U" series we posted on ESPN.com prior to the 2014 season, Ohio State boasted the best secondary in college football since the 2000 season.
Based on a system that awarded teams points for national award winners, consensus All-Americans, first-team all-conference selections and NFL draft picks, Ohio State and Oklahoma both ranked ahead of third-place LSU, with Florida trailing all of them in seventh place.
Since the Position U series posted last year, LSU led the SEC in pass defense (and ranked third nationally by allowing 164.2 passing yards per game) in 2014, and Florida ranked seventh in the conference (and 41st nationally at 213.6 ypg). LSU cornerback Jalen Collins became a second-round NFL draft pick in the spring and Florida star Hargreaves was the only first-team all-SEC defensive back from either team in 2014.
Nonetheless, it's impossible to dispute that both teams are loaded with talent in the secondary. Hargreaves has been generally viewed as the SEC's top cover corner since he arrived on campus, and Jalen Tabor and Brian Poole both rank among the conference leaders in passes defended (Tabor is also tied for fifth in the league with two interceptions).
LSU's Adams is already one of the conference's top safeties midway through his sophomore season and, with Toliver and White locking down the outside and senior safety Jalen Mills preparing to return from a preseason injury, the Tigers will almost certainly rank toward the top of the SEC's pass defense rankings again by season's end.
Right now, that honor goes to Missouri, with LSU ranking fourth in the league against the pass (191.8 ypg, 37th nationally), just ahead of Florida in seventh place (197.2, good for 43rd). The Gators, however, rank second behind Alabama in pass efficiency defense (104.9), with LSU ranking seventh (115.9).
In truth, both defenses have been more vulnerable against the pass this season than in previous years, but injuries and/or suspensions likely affected the groups' continuity in the first several games.
When they are at full strength, there is no question that LSU and Florida boast two of the nation's deepest and most talented collections of defensive backs. Even if the Tiger and Gator defensive backs won't be covering each other on Saturday, their performances will be one of the marquee matchups in a huge game between top-10 teams.