Week 2 - Florida at Miami
Miami RB Duke Johnson
Miami RB Duke Johnson
Posted Sep 4, 2013

Week 2 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Florida at Miami

Florida (1-0) at Miami (1-0) Sept. 7, 12:00, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: You've been missed.

While Florida and Miami are playing for the 55th time, it's also their first meeting in five years. The renewal of the rivalry will be especially meaningful for the Hurricanes, which could use the marquee game as a springboard back to prominence. No, a bridge to the old days hasn't been fully erected by head coach Al Golden, but Miami is inching its way back, with an eye on winning the ACC Coastal Division. It began the 2013 season with a matter-of-fact disposal of Florida Atlantic, 34-6.

For the ACC as a whole, which already owns a win over Georgia, this represents another huge chance to make a statement to a dubious nation.

So far, the 2013 version of the Gators looks an awful lot like the 2012 one. The nasty defense is crafted in the image of head coach Will Muschamp. But a methodical, inefficient offense is capable of capping Florida's ultimate potential. The Gators would love to not only maintain their top 10 standing, but to also provide a detour for the hated Hurricanes.
Why Florida Might Win: Yeah, the defense has a lot of new faces, but it's going to be as nasty as ever.

Just because only four starters return from 2012 doesn't mean the Gators won't again rank among the nation's top defensive units. Oh, and a week after silencing a very good Toledo offense, Florida returns LB Antonio Morrison and CB Loucheiz Purifoy from suspension. It's especially tough to run on a stout front seven boasting DT Dominique Easley, ‘Buck' Dante Fowler and LB Ronald Powell. The return of Powell, who missed last year to an ACL tear, provided an emotional and physical lift to the pass rush.

Why Miami Might Win: The Hurricanes own a significant edge in the backfield.

While Florida continues to have problems scoring points and sustaining drives, Miami is in great hands with QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson. Morris is the even-keeled, next-level distributor needed to win this type of game. He'll use the speed of receivers Phillip Dorsett and Allen Hurns to stretch the field. Morris also enjoys the luxury of playing behind a veteran line that returns all five of last year's starters. In Johnson, the Canes will have the most dynamic playmaker inside Sun Life Stadium, a multi-dimensional threat who started 2013 with 186 yards and a score on just 19 carries. In what figures to be a low-scoring game, Miami has the tools needed to quickly put points on the board.

Who To Watch Out For: The Florida front vs. the enormous Miami O-line is the matchup that'll dictate the outcome on Saturday. The Canes are physical, but can they stifle the Gators' quickness?

- Purifoy is a very special talent, not just in the secondary, but possibly on offense as well. The playmaker was used at wide receiver throughout the offseason.

- The big unknown this week is the Miami D, which was atrocious a year ago. How does it stack up against the methodical Florida attack? And can Gators QB Jeff Driskel use the whole field now that he's beginning his second year as the starter?

- Florida also returns starting RB Matt Jones, who missed the opener with an infection. He and Mack Brown are going to repeatedly pound the soft underbelly of the Miami defense.

What Will Happen: Miami is moving in the right direction, but it's not quite ready for a win of this magnitude. The Canes have Morris and Johnson, which could be enough to capture the Coastal, but their defense remains a concern. Florida, on the other hand, is littered with budding stars on that side of the ball. The Gators will win with their physicality, both on D and when running the ball with Jones and Brown. Until Miami can bluntly stop an assertive ground game, it won't win games against top-tier opponents.

Prediction: Florida 31 … Miami 20
Line: Florida -3 – O/U: 49
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 4.5