Miami Hurricanes vs Florida Gators
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, August 24, 2019
Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
ORLANDO – Football fans in Florida are all abuzz with the renewal of the Miami-Florida rivalry, which kicks off the college football season Saturday night at Camping World Stadium in neutral Orlando. But fans in that state won’t be the only ones watching as the matchup between programs trying to claw their way back into championship contention will be on the national stage as they introduce the 150th college campaign.
“To me, one of the great things is not just the fans but all the other teams are watching us,” Gators coach Dan Mullen told reporters. “Everybody is watching. What do you want them to think about you?” Mullen knows all about attention as he drew plenty of it a year ago when he was handed the reins of the 4-7 Gators and quickly turned them into 10-game winners, resulting in their opening ranking of No. 8 in the Top 25 coaches poll.
Miami is also quite familiar with the glare of the spotlight and the Hurricanes are desperate for a turnaround of their own with former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz taking over the helm following a forgettable season that ended with the abrupt retirement of coach Mark Richt. “One of our main objectives has been to find that competitive spirit and that backbone that benefited Florida a year ago and we know they will provide that test,” Diaz said. “I know the energy and toughness that they will play with.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Florida -7.5
ABOUT MIAMI (2018: 7-6): Diaz’s first order of business was settling on a quarterback after years of turmoil at the position and redshirt freshman Jarren Williams surprisingly emerged as the starter ahead of Ohio State transfer Tate Martell and last year’s sometimes starter N’Kosi Perry. Williams, who had 17 yards passing and a 1-yard rushing touchdown in his only appearance last season, has a promising group of weapons at his disposal, including last year’s second-leading rusher DeeJay Dallas (634 yards, six touchdowns) and top two receivers Jeff Thomas (35 catches, 563 yards, three TDs) – back with the team after being dismissed by Richt last November – and tight end Brevin Jordan (32 catches, 287 yards, four TDs). Defense is still the team – and Diaz’s bread and butter – and the unit will attack and create turnovers as usual, with the added benefit this week of familiarity with Mullen’s creative offensive schemes as Diaz was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach under Mullen for two seasons (2010, 2015) at Mississippi State.
ABOUT FLORIDA (2018: 10-3): The Gators’ resurgence was largely because of Mullen’s success resurrecting a lifeless offense, beginning with the development of young quarterback Feleipe Franks, who took control of the starting job as a redshirt sophomore and threw for 2,457 yards and 24 touchdowns with only six interceptions. The Gators wound up totaling at least 400 yards in their final four games and scoring 40-plus points in their final three – the first time they put together each of those streaks since 2008 – and 79.6 percent of the players responsible for the 2018 rushing and receiving yardage will be suiting up again this season. While Mullen worked his magic with the offense, coordinator Todd Grantham did the same on the defensive end and most of the key players, led by second-team preseason All-America CB CJ Henderson, return from a unit that surrendered 7.3 less points per game than the previous season.
- Miami owns a 29-26 series advantage over Florida with the Hurricanes winning seven of the last eight meetings, including a 21-16 triumph in the last encounter in 2013.
- The teams signed a deal for a home-and-home series for 2024 and 2025.
- The Hurricanes’ defense was the only one in the nation to average more than 10 tackles for loss (10.5 tackles) last season.