The waiting is (nearly) over! The 2019 college football season gets underway on Saturday evening. Kicking this coming season off is the latest installment in a Sunshine State rivalry, as the Florida Gators play the Miami (FL) Hurricanes in Orlando.
The Gators come into the 2019 season with high expectations. They start the year 8th in both the AP Top 25 and the USA TODAY Coaches Poll, this after a 10-3 season in 2018 that ended with a Peach Bowl win over the Michigan Wolverines. They return a quality crop of players, including but not limited to Feleipe Franks, Lamical Perine, Jabari Zuniga and CJ Henderson.
Franks also has the luxury of having all six of his top receivers from a year ago — Van Jefferson, Josh Hammond, Trevon Grimes, Freddie Swain, Kadarius Toney and Tyrie Cleveland — all back aboard this year as well, as they will all have a chance to get started off on the right foot on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are starting anew again. Manny Diaz now leads the charge in Coral Gables, as he’s the new head coach for the Canes after Mark Richt’s retirement. They’ll also have a new face under center. Jarren Williams was named the starting quarterback a few days ago, as he won the job away from N’Kosi Perry and Tate Martell. Williams only had three pass attempts a year ago, so he’s certainly a very fresh face for the Hurricanes to have calling signals and tossing the pigskin around.
Williams will have the Canes’ leading receiver in 2018 in Jeff Thomas to toss the ball too. DeeJay Dallas, the team’s second-leading rusher behind now Seattle Seahawks running back Travis Homer, will be ready to roll from the backfield as well. In addition to Thomas and Dallas, All-ACC Preseason Team selection Brevin Jordan is ready to set the pace as the Canes’ tight end this year. Defensively, the Canes are led by linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney, both of whom were also All-ACC Preseason Team selections.
All time, Miami leads the series against Florida 29-26. They have owned the Gators in many of the last few meetings. In fact, the only win the Gators can hang their hat on recently was in 2008, when they defeated the Canes 26-3. Other than that, they have lost five of the six meetings they’ve had in the 21st century, and seven of the last eight dating back to 1986.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Watch Online: WatchESPN