The FBS college football season kicks off tonight with a matchup between two in-state rivals in Florida and Miami (FL). Two historic, thoroughbred programs going head to head in one of the biggest rivalries in college football.
This marks the 55th meeting between the Gators and Hurricanes. The last time they met, Miami won 21-16 in 2013. Florida haven’t had the best of times winning recent meeting either, losing seven of the last eight and 12 of the last 16.
This week’s Sports University Team of the Week, as voted on by you guys, is the Florida Gators. There are a number of things Florida are looking to accomplish this season. A win on opening week would be nice, but let’s give some quick background on the Gators preseason.
Head coach Dan Mullen is back for his second season as Gators’ head coach and has his team in a pretty good spot. The team return thirteen starts from last season. Five on offense and eight on defense. No one more important to the team than quarterback Feleipe Franks.
Florida are looking to build off their great finish to last season as they destroyed Florida State (41-14) in the regular season finale and Michigan (41-15) in the Gators' bowl game.
The Gators are ranked 8th in the AP Top 25 poll, which is their highest preseason ranking since Urban Meyer was last in Gainesville in 2010.
But the Gators have high hopes to this season and are hyped for not only this game but the entire season, just ask Feleipe Franks.
“I think this team is really special,” Franks said. “We expect to go out there and win every Saturday and try to make it a playoff contender and win a championship here again. That's the expectations here every year.”
Florida could very well be a team that plays spoiler in the SEC and makes it into the playoff for the first time. It starts with a big game on one of the biggest stages, given this matchup was featured for ESPN’s College Gameday. Speaking of College Gameday, Lee Corso gave his pick for tonight’s game.
“Everybody's watching,” Florida receiver Freddie Swain said. “Who doesn't like attention?”
As for Miami (FL), change was a good word for the offseason. Mark Richt retired, Manny Diaz took over and surprised some when he named Jarren Williams the starter for the season over Ohio State transfer Tate Martell and N’Kosi Perry who played most of last season. Diaz trusts that Williams can be the guy for his team.
“We believe we can win with all three guys,” Diaz said in a statement posted on the team’s website. “However, we feel like Jarren has the greatest upside due to his passing ability, his instincts and his determination.”
A couple of weeks ago, Williams let people know what he can do.
“I feel like I'm an elite passer,” Williams said per ESPN.com . “I can make all the throws, even in tight windows. What a lot of people don't know is that I can extend plays with my feet. I'm not a slow guy. I can tuck the ball and get 15 yards. I can make a guy miss, but I am a pass-first guy. I stand in the pocket and trust the pocket and get the ball to my receivers.”
The Hurricanes are the underdogs in this game; a 7-point underdog according to ESPN. The Gators can’t afford to overlook this talented Miami team if they are to get their 2019-2020 campaign off to a good start. an Mullen made that clear at SEC Media Days earlier in this summer.
“I like to set the bar really high,"Mullen said. “I don't know if there's anybody out there that has higher expectations for the team as a program than I do. We like to set that bar high, and we're constantly striving to be the absolute best that we can be.”
Bring out and all the tailgating, football loving, tradition embracing passion you have because the college football season starts tonight!