For Miami to avoid starting 0-1 for a second straight season, it will need to defeat a top-10 team on a neutral field.
The Hurricanes will kick off the 2019 college football season on Saturday against No. 8 Florida at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. It will be the debut of new Miami head coach Manny Diaz.
Coming off an impressive debut is Florida head coach Dan Mullen. The Gators went 10-3 in 2018, capping the year with a 41-14 blowout of rival Florida State and a 41-15 beatdown of Michigan in the Peach Bowl.
The offensive line wasn’t a strength for Florida, but quarterback Feleipe Franks returns after a breakout season in which he passed for nearly 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions. Franks also rushed for seven scores. The Gators have a talented group of skill players returning to include leading rusher Lamical Perine and leading receiver Van Jefferson.
Making the start under center for Miami will be redshirt freshman Jarren Williams, who beat out N’Kosi Perry and Ohio State transfer Tate Martell. Like Franks, Williams will have no shortage of talent around him.
Joining him in the backfield will be the versatile DeeJay Dallas. Wide receiver Jeff Thomas and tight end Brevin Jordan are two pass-catches to watch for the Hurricanes.
The strength for Miami last season was the defense as it led the country in tackles for loss. Jonathan Garvin headlines the defensive front for Miami while the Hurricanes may possess the best corps of linebackers in the ACC led by 4-year starters Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney.
Miami ranked fourth in total defense in 2018 while Florida ranked 20th in scoring defense. Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson is one of the nation’s best cover men. Defensive end Jabari Zuniga and linebacker David Reese are Florida’s returning leaders in sacks and tackles, respectively.
Saturday’s contest will likely come down to which quarterback plays the best and which team makes the fewest mistakes. Miami has won seven of the last eight in the series. The contest begins at 7 p.m. EST and will air on ESPN.
Prediction: Florida 22, Miami 17
Mike Ferguson is a contributor for The Grueling Truth, covering Florida sports and sports history. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. To keep up with all of his work, like his Facebook page.