College Football Pick: Miami vs Florida
The college football season kicks-off this weekend as two in-state rivals take the field in Orlando, Florida. The season-opening game will pit No.8 Florida against unranked Miami.
The Gators are coming off of a solid season in Dan Mullen’s first season as their coach, which included a 10-3 record and a thorough dismantling of Michigan in the Peach Bowl. Feleipe Franks will return as their starting quarterback after putting up the most prolific passing season by a Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow’s final season in 2009. Miami is entering its first year with first-time coach Manny Diaz, who served as its defensive coordinator for the last three seasons. Redshirt freshman Jarren Williams beat out Ohio State transfer Tate Martell as the team’s starting quarterback–he has a talented set of skill players to help him transition to the starting role.
Date: Saturday, Aug. 24 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Camping World Stadium — Orlando, Florida
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Why Florida Will Win…
Florida has athletes all over the field–specifically on offense with five wide receivers with NFL-aspirations (Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Trevon Grimes and Joshua Hammond) to go along with running back Lamical Perine, who is one of the SEC’s best at the position. Feleipe Franks has the talent around him–but his offensive line will need to perform above their level in this contest to win. The Gators are replacing four starters along their offensive front and the Hurricanes features one of the nation’s stingiest defenses.
In order to come out on top, UF will need to control the clock, stay ahead of the chains and put up at least 20 points on offense. If they can take the lead early, they will not put their offensive line in a position to strictly pass block with the Cane defenders teeing off expecting to rush the passer. Staying committed to the run with Perine is key.
Why Miami Will Win…
In our season preview of the Hurricanes we expected Tate Martell to win the quarterback job, instead it was former four-star recruit Jarren Williams. He has some talent around him in running back DeeJay Dallas and wide receivers Jeff Thomas and Buffalo-transfer KJ Osborn (who we have predicted to be a surprise in the ACC this season). Like Florida, the Hurricanes have some inexperience up front, so protecting Williams will be key.
If Miami is going to pull the upset, it will be because of their stout defense. The Hurricanes front seven might be one of the best in the country before season’s end. Star defensive lineman Jonathan Garvin, and senior linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney lead a a veteran crew that finished 11th in the country in sacks last season (40). They will get after Franks early and often.
Spread: -7.5 Florida
First games of the season tend to show team’s rust–but that should wear off come the second-half. I expect a tight ball game throughout and with the spread set at 7.5, this will likely be a touchdown difference in the fourth quarter. I’ll lean towards the Gators winning outright, but if I’m looking at the spread, give me Miami +7.5 and the UNDER of 47.
Prediction: Florida 23 Miami 17