No. 10 Florida Gators (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Miami Hurricanes (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date and Time: Saturday September 7th, 2013. 12:00PM Eastern
Where: Sun Life Stadium Miami, F.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Fla -3.5/MIA +3.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
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One of college footballs great rivalries will be renewed this Saturday
when the no. 10 Florida Gators head into Sun Life Stadium
to battle the Miami Hurricanes. The Gators and Canes previously
met annually in what became one of the best rivalries in football in the
early 80s. Most recently these teams have met just once since 2004 when
the Gators snapped a 6 game losing streak to the Hurricanes with a 26-3
victory in 2008. After a 5 year hiatus, both schools will meet for the 55th
time this Saturday when the Hurricanes try to score their biggest victory
of the Al Golden era.
After a pair of mediocre seasons, Golden finally has the Hurricanes in a position to compete in the ACC this season and not just compete but possibly contend for the ACC Coastal Division crown. The Hurricanes finally have some experience on their roster starting with senior QB Stephen Morris. Despite carrying a high turnover ratio throughout his career, Morris gives the Miami offense some firepower. He has a big arm and can make throws down the field which is just what Miami needs to complement their strong running game led by sophomore Duke Johnson. Johnson is a superb runner and a homerun threat for the Canes offense out of the backfield. Last week in Miamis 34-6 season opening win over Florida Atlantic, Johnson touched the ball 19 times to rack up 186 yards and 1 touchdown. Johnson is the guy the offense will rely on heavily this season and if they can get some consistency out of Morris, the Hurricanes could have a long awaited breakout season.
One of the Hurricanes biggest areas of concern that could prevent them from having that breakout season surrounds the play of the defense. The Hurricanes were extremely young in 2012 and it showed on the field as the defense gave up a blistering 486 yards per game. To put things in perspective, only 4 teams in all of college football gave up more yards than the Miami defense in 2012. Last week the Miami defense appeared vastly improved against an inferior FAU group and gave up just 250 total yards. However, the defenses first real test will come this week as they battle a very physical Florida running attack and we will see just how much the Miami defense has truly improved
The visiting Gators will also get their first true test of the 2013 season this Saturday as they make their first road trip of the year. Florida had a snoozing 24-6 victory over Toledo in their opener last week. Ironically it was the Gators off the field issues that made storylines as 5 players were suspended for breaking team rules prior to kickoff. While all players will play this Saturday, it is hard to ignore some of the internal issues that the Gators have faced this off-season. Florida was a team that most would agree over-achieved last season to finish 11-2.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Floridas strong 2012 campaign was the fact that the offense was rather horrible most of the year. Not only could Florida not move the football through the air but the Gators ended the season ranked 90th in total offense. The Gators 4th ranked defense carried the team to their impressive 11-1 regular season mark. Still a lot of questions linger surrounding the offense this season and especially this week against rival Miami. The Hurricanes can move the football very well so that means the Gators offense has to find some consistency to match their point total. Last week Florida QB Jeff Driskel had one of his most efficient games as a start completing 17 of 22 passing for 153 yards and a touchdown. Driskel has had a lot of consistency issues during his tenure in Gainesville and it will be interesting to see if he is equally productive this Saturday against Miamis defense.
Rest assured the Gators will spend the majority of their offensive snaps running the football. Last season Floridas rush to pass ratio was as high as 3-1 at one point during the season. Running back Mack Brown received 25 touches for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns in last weeks victory over Toledo. Brown is a junior with decent size and a guy that Coach Muschamp feels can be the workhorse this season. Therefore do not be surprised if Brown gets another 25+ touches again this Saturday. Floridas running success will be important all year considering they have just 4 returners on the defensive side of the ball from that outstanding 2012 group. The Gators will still be solid on defense but not near as dominate. Therefore in order for the Gators to remain among the nations elite teams, the offense will have to pick up the slack in 2013.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I believe Miami is getting their shot at Florida at a good time in the year. The Gators have a lot of holes to fill and are far from reliable on the offensive side of the football. Additionally, Miami has a lot of experience at the skill positions that can come up with crucial 3rd down conversions to keep the offense on the field. Add to the fact this is a game that Miami has had circles on their calendar and I like the Canes to pull off a mild upset. Take Miami +3.5
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