One of the biggest games of the week involving ACC teams takes place in Miami, FL. where the Miami Hurricanes play host to an old rival in No. 12 Florida.
If you are a fan of the two Florida powerhouses hooking it up, you may want to pay close attention as there is no telling when the two schools will meet again. With the SEC potentially moving to a nine-game conference schedule, Saturday’s meeting between the Gators and Canes might not be happen again for a long time.
Both teams ran the ball very effectively in their respective openers but whichever quarterback plays the best could determine the winner on Saturday.
Miami is coming off a 34-6 win over Florida Atlantic in which sophomore running back Duke Johnson ran for a career-high 186 yards, while Florida opened its season at home with a 24-6 win over Toledo where Mack Brown gained 112 yards and found the end zone twice.
This is a rivalry that dates back to 1938 with the Hurricanes holding a slim 28-26 in the 54 all-time meetings.
Here’s a look at everything you need to know about this big non-conference tilt.
When: Saturday, September 7
Time: Noon ET
Place: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
Spread: Florida -3
Last Meeting: 2008, Florida won 26-3 in Gainesville
Key for Miami: Stephen Morris must come to play
Sure Johnson will get a heavy workload for the Hurricanes, but it is time for Morris to make a statement. The Gators have a very stout run defense, which puts even more importance on Morris to thrive in a big time game. Morris is now a senior and is running out of opportunities to rack up signature wins. In Miami’s three biggest games a season ago, all bad losses- Kansas State (52-13), Notre Dame (41-3) and Florida State (33-20) – Morris averaged only 213 yards through the air and the Hurricanes were outscored 126-36 in those games.
He is a guy with a high football IQ, experience, arm strength, intangibles and a ton of ability. All he is missing is a big win. The stage is set; we will soon find out if Morris can deliver.
Key for Florida: Jeff Driskel making big plays
The Gators get key starters Loucheiz Purifoy and Matt Jones back, but a lot depends on whether or not Driskel has a big game under center. He was effective last week against Toledo and must continue that momentum for Florida to be successful.
It all comes down to which Driskel we see. Will it be the quarterback with a ton of talent or the guy who went 16-of-29 for 175 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl? Keep in mind that Driskel had four games last year in which he failed to throw for 100 yards.
A big key for him could be to make plays with his legs, which could take some pressure off the passing game. He did run for over 400 yards and four touchdowns last season. Throw in running backs Jones and Brown and the Gators have enough talent to get it done on the ground, but Driskel will have to make plays in the air and avoid mistakes for the Gators to leave Sun Life Stadium with a win.
Prediction: It’s easy to like the Gators here after going 11-2 last season and reaching a BCS game. However, Al Golden has done a good job of rebuilding the Miami program and usually you start to see things pay off in the third year. Miami has the talent to hang tough with Florida and they get a big win to keep the program heading in the right direction. I like the Canes in a mild upset. Miami 27, Florida 23.