No. 8 Florida, Miami renew rivalry, usher in new season
No. 8 Florida (10-3 last season) vs. Miami (7-6) at Orlando, Florida, Saturday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN).
Line: Florida by 7.
Series record: Miami leads 29-26.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
A chance to set the tone for the 2019 season and secure bragging rights for the next five years. The next matchup in this once-heated rivalry is scheduled for 2024 in Gainesville, the front-end of a home-and-home series.
Both inexperienced offensive lines could have their hands full against stout defenses. Florida has four new starters up front, including tackles Stone Forsythe and Jean Delance. Miami is even younger on its line, with tackles Zion Nelson and John Campbell making their first career starts.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Florida: Quarterback Feleipe Franks is the team’s X-factor. He played well down the stretch last season , accounting for 12 touchdowns and no interceptions over the final four games — all wins. But he’s also been benched five times in two years. Coach Dan Mullen says Franks has made more progress this summer than he did all of last season.
Miami: Linebacker Shaq Quarterman will start his 40th consecutive game at Miami. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound senior is one of the leaders of a unit that ranked fourth nationally last season.
FACTS & FIGURES
Miami has won seven of the last eight against Florida and 12 of 16. The teams played every year between 1938-87, with a brief hiatus during World War II. The Gators ended the series in 1988 because they wanted to play a “more national schedule.” Florida then replaced Miami with Montana State. ... Former Miami coach Jimmy Johnson spoke to the Hurricanes this week. Florida brought in former quarterback and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow for a pep talk. ... Miami is opening with a neutral-site matchup for the second straight season. Last year, the Canes lost 33-17 to LSU in Arlington, Texas. ... Florida is making its 39th appearance on College GameDay, the third most in show history and is 24-14 with the show at its games. ... The Gators won their final three games last season by 26 or more points. The last time they won three consecutive games by at least 25 points was an eight-game stretch in 2008.