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The Gators hope to celebrate their first victory at Miami in 28 years on Saturday.

Friday September 6, 2013The Opening Kickoff: Florida at Miami

The Gators hope to celebrate their first victory at Miami in 28 years on Saturday.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

No. 12/9 Florida at Miami
#UFvsMIA
Saturday, 12:00 p.m.
Sun Life Stadium

Broadcast Info Game Notes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – How long has it been?

You could say a while. The Internet was around but Facebook, Twitter and iPhones were not.

When the Gators and Hurricanes kick off at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, it will be the first time Florida has played a road game at Miami since 2003, a heartbreaking 38-33 loss in which a 23-point lead evaporated on a muggy night at the old Orange Bowl.

Ah, the Orange Bowl, a relic of the past.

The shiny new home of the Miami Marlins now sits on the site where the Gators last defeated the Hurricanes at home 28 years ago.

In fact, this storied rivalry appears in danger of going the way of the Orange Bowl. There are currently no talks between the schools about continuing a series born in 1938.

If the rivalry is truly dead, the final edition has the ingredients to be a memorable one.

Both teams enter Saturday's sold-out showdown coming off wins in their season openers. The Gators defeated Toledo to win their 24th consecutive opener, the second-longest streak in the nation behind Nebraska's 28-game streak.

Meanwhile, Miami opened with a 34-6 victory over Florida Atlantic to debut head coach Al Golden's third season in Coral Gables.

Florida coach Will Muschamp, like Golden, is in his third season at UF. The Gators finished 7-6 in his first season while Miami went 6-6 under Golden in 2011.

Last season both programs improved, Florida earning a Sugar Bowl berth to finish 11-2. The Hurricanes finished 7-5.

Some say the Gators are back. Some say the Hurricanes are on the verge of being back.

Muschamp doesn't see it that way.

"I donít know that anybodyís 'back,' '' he said. "I think Al would say the same thing."

Fortunately, on what is expected to be a hot and humid South Florida Saturday afternoon, the Gators-Canes rivalry is "back" for a 55th, and for now, final show.

After meeting every year from 1938 to 1987 -- except for 1946 when soldiers were returning from World War II and Florida opted not to field a team -- the Gators and Hurricanes have met five times since. Two of those meetings came in bowl games.

Miami won four in a row until the Gators defeated the Canes at The Swamp in 2008 on their way to a third national championship.

Let's take a look at Saturday's matchup with The Opening Kickoff:

 

Five Storylines to Watch

  • Florida sophomore running back Matt Jones returns after missing all of fall camp due to a viral infection. It will be interesting to see how the Gators use Jones and Mack Brown, who rushed for a career-high 112 yards and two touchdowns in the opener.
  • Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease heard the critics who called the play calling "vanilla" against Toledo. Pease said he judges success in wins rather than yards. If the Gators win Saturday, will the critics get where Pease is coming from?
  • Miami sophomore running back Duke Johnson has five 50-yard runs in his short career. The Gators have allowed only two 50-yard runs in the past 10 years. Can they keep Johnson from getting loose?
  • There is going to be a lot of emotion on the field Saturday. Many of the players were teammates in high school or played against one another. The officials will be keep a close eye on this one, so staying composed and away from costly penalties is critical.
  • The Gators went to Texas A&M last season in the second game and won, a huge shot of confidence that led to a 7-0 start. A victory on the road against the Canes would provide a similar early season boost.

 

Cast of Characters

  • Florida's defense gets a boost with the return of cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, linebacker Antonio Morrison and defensive tackle Darious Cummings. The trio was suspended for the season opener and adds more depth to an already deep unit.
  • Florida linebacker Michael Taylor started in place of Morrison in the opener and remains atop the depth chart. Taylor made a good impression and both players will get plenty of reps Saturday. "Mike is about what we're about here, and that's hard work and blue-collar tough, physical,'' defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said.
  • Gators nose tackle Leon Orr had four tackles and a sack in his first career start last week. Durkin said Orr, a redshirt junior, is playing his best football since joining the program.
  • Hurricanes junior linebacker Denzel Perryman, a cousin of Gators receiver Quinton Dunbar, is effective against the run and pass. He led Miami with six tackles and two pass breakups against FAU.
  • Former Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley moved home to Miami in the offseason to run the Hurricanes' offense.

 

The Quote File

  • "You gotta keep your composure. Itís going to be an emotional game anytime you play a rival or play somebody you know a lot about, certainly you need to make sure you keep your composure within the game and play through the situations." -- Muschamp on facing the Hurricanes in Miami
  • "Loucheiz is a big part of our secondary and our chemistry. Having him back for this game is really big, especially with the weapons they have." -- Gators safety Cody Riggs on return of junior cornerback Purifoy
  • "He has a lot of arm talent. He knows their offense very well. He knows how to read defenses. He's a great quarterback. We're looking forward to the challenge." -- Gators safety Marcus Maye on Miami quarterback Stephen Morris
  • "I went up to him in the locker room and said, 'you know what? Just be patient. I'm going to do a better job of getting some things designed [for you].' He goes, 'Coach, I had fun and we won.' That's the kind of kid he is." -- Pease on freshman receiver Demarcus Robinson
  • "Theyíre big, physical up front. Itís a great defense. They play a lot of guys. Itís a great challenge for our offense -- our offensive line, our tight ends, our fullback. But itís a great opportunity." -- Golden on Florida's defense
  • "Miami's definitely going to be going after that in this game. I put it on film that I put the ball on the ground.'' Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel on his two fumbles against Toledo

 

10 Quick Hitters

  • The Gators' last win at Miami was a 35-23 victory in 1985. Miami didn't lose at home again until a loss to Washington in 1994, snapping its NCAA-record 58-game home win streak.
  • Florida is 14-13 all-time at Miami; this is the first time the teams have met at Sun Life Stadium, where the Hurricanes moved permanently starting with the 2008 season. Miami is 21-11 at home since the move to SLS.
  • The game is a sellout and Miami is urging fans to wear white as part of an official whiteout. Meanwhile, Muschamp announced Thursday night the Gators will wear all-white uniforms Saturday.
  • Miami has added an additional 1,300 seats to SLS for the game. The extra seats bring capacity to around 77,000, which would be a Miami attendance record since moving to the home of the Miami Dolphins.
  • In its last 16 games, the only time an opponent has rushed for 100 yards against the Gators is Georgia's Todd Gurley in the eighth game of last season.
  • Miami gained 503 yards against FAU, marking the first time since 2002 the Hurricanes eclipsed 500 yards in a season opener. Dating back to the final two games of last season, Miami has surpassed 500 yards of total offense in three consecutive games.
  • The Hurricanes return 19 starters -- 10 on offense and nine defensive starters.
  • Morris needs 201 yards passing to pass former UM quarterback Jim Kelly and move into 10th place on the school's career passing-yards list.
  • Muschamp and Golden are both former defensive coordinators and in their third seasons. Muschamp is 19-8 and Golden is 14-11 at Miami, 41-45 overall as a head coach.
  • Dunbar had two receptions for 22 yards against Toledo and has caught at least one pass in 17 consecutive games.

 

The Bottom Line

The Gators defense was dominant in the season-opening win over Toledo. Add Morrison, Purifoy and Cummings to the mix, and Durkin has a fully stocked roster.

While Florida's offense is expected to mix it up more than in Week 1 -- Florida ran 48 times and passed 22 against Toledo -- this is a Gators program built on defense. How well they slow down Morris and Co. will likely determine the outcome in this one.

 

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