The No. 8 Florida Gators will take on the Miami Hurricanes on a neutral site to get the 2019 regular-season underway on Saturday, August 24th. The game will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 EST and will be televised on ESPN.
The books have held this line firm over the offseason with the Gators as a 7.5-point favorite. The total for this contest opened up at 48.5, but has been bet down to 47.5 and even 47 in some spots. Click here for a full list of the Week 1 betting odds for more links to our game previews.
Vegas Betting Odds & Game Preview: Miami (FL) vs Florida
Florida finished last year at 10-3, ending the season in fashion with a 41-15 victory over Michigan in the Peach Bowl. The Gators easily covered that as a 4-point dog and wound up a respectable 9-4 ATS in the first season under head coach Dan Mullen. It was a 6-win increase over their 4-7 mark posted in 2017.
Needless to say the bar has been raised in Gainsville, where double-digit win seasons are not enough. Florida’s faithful are craving another National Championship. Making the playoffs would be quite the accomplishment. The Bulldogs would have to finish ahead of Georgia in the East and likely take down Alabama in the SEC title game.
Gators bring back 13 starters (5 offense, 8 defense). Last year Florida’s offense ranked 22nd in scoring (35.0 ppg) and 42nd in total offense (426.7 ypg). The defense ranked 20th in scoring (20.0 ppg) and 28th in total defense (343.3 ypg). Their +12 turnover margin was tops in the SEC and 7th best in the country.
Miami’s coming off a very disappointing 2018 campaign. The Hurricanes finished the season with a 7-6 record. While Florida dominated in their bowl game, Miami was embarrassed 35-3 at the hands of Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl. That ended up being the last game for head coach Mark Richt, who took everyone by surprise and retired. Richt spent just 3 years with the program.
Well known defensive coordinator Manny Diaz (invented the turnover chain) had excepted the head coaching job at Temple, but backed out when Miami called him to replace Richt. Diaz hired Dan Enos (Alabama QB coach last year) to be the new offensive coordinator and Blake Baker (previous 4 yrs at La Tech – defensive coordinator) to be in charge of the defense.
Miami is one of several teams that are considered a contender in the Coastal Division, but it would be a shock if any team other than Clemson won the ACC. The Hurricanes will have 12 starters back (6 offense, 6 defense). Miami finished 2018 ranked 66th in scoring (28.8 ppg) and 105th in total offense (358.8 ypg). Luckily the defense was dominant, ranking 18th in scoring (19.5 ppg) and 4th in total defense (278.9 ypg).
This will be the first meeting between the schools since 2013. Miami won that contest 21-16 as a 3-point home dog. Turnovers plagued the Gators in that one. They turned it over 5 times, which is how they lost the game with a 413 to 212 edge in total yards.
College Football Free Pick & Predictions: UNDER 47
If I had to take a side, I would grab the points with the Hurricanes, but I feel the better value is with the UNDER 47 on the total.
Click on the link for more free college football picks from our expert handicappers on staff.
Miami has without a doubt one of the best front seven’s in college football. They got 3 potential NFL linebackers who all turned down the NFL to return for their senior season. This defense led the country last year in tackles for loss.
One of the things that gets overlooked by the public when they look at the early season matchups is the talent returning/lost along the offensive line. Last year Florida had all 5 starters back on the offensive line. It’s a big reason why they had such a strong running back and Feleipe Franks was able to make a big jump. This year only one starter is back and I just don’t see them being able to handle that front of the Hurricanes.
It’s a very similar story on the other side of the ball. Florida has so much talent on the defensive side of the ball and should have one of the best defensive lines in the country. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is one of those guys that it really doesn’t matter the talent, he’s going to field a top tier defense. He’s got 8 starters back on that side of the ball.
Miami loses 3 starters on the offensive line, don’t have near the same talent at running back as they did a season ago and will be starting red-shirt freshman Jarren Williams at quarterback. Williams surprised everyone by beating out returning sophomore N’Kosi Pery and Ohio State transfer Tate Martell.
Not only will it be difficult for both teams to move the ball, you have to think that if/when they do get in the redzone they will have to end up settling for field goals.
UNDER is 20-7 in the Gators last 27 matchups with a team from the ACC and 7-1 in the Hurricanes last 8 neutral site contests.