Florida Favored by a Touchdown Over Miami in Opening Game of College Football Season

Posted on: August 24, 2019, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: August 22, 2019, 02:43h.

College football season begins on Saturday night, when the Miami Hurricanes take on the No. 8 ranked Florida Gators at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

Florida Miami college football
The Florida Gators will kick off the 2019 college football season when they take on the Miami Hurricanes in Orlando on Saturday. (Image: Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)

Florida comes into the game as a seven-point favorite, according to the oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Florida Bounces Back Under Dan Mullen

At +6600, Florida is considered a fringe national championship contender this year, well behind favorites Clemson (+175) and Alabama (+250). But the Gators believe they can make some real noise this season, and at +1600, are being given at least an outside chance of challenging Alabama (-159) and Georgia (+250) for the SEC title.

Florida finished the 2018 season on a four-game winning streak to earn a 10-3 overall record, ending the year with a dominant 41-15 win over Michigan in the Peach Bowl that earned them a No. 7 ranking in the year-end AP Poll. The year was a huge success for first-year coach Dan Mullen, who turned around a program who was coming of a 4-7 season.

Now, the Gators will take on one of their traditional in-state rivals to start the season. It’s an interesting matchup not only because it could set the tone for the season for both teams, but because new Miami head coach Manny Diaz once served as an assistant for Mullen when he was the head coach for Mississippi State.

Coaching Battle Pits Diaz Against Former Mentor

That means the two head coaches will know each other very well. And while the two are best known for different strengths – Mullen for his offensive play calling, and Diaz for his defensive schemes – Mullen believes that his former assistant will be incorporating a lot of what he learned during their time together now that he is guiding his own team.

“I imagine he took probably a lot of what we do with him in how he runs his program,” Mullen told the Orlando Sentinel. “Obviously he’s going to have differences because he’s gonna run it in his style, but I bet there’s gonna be a lot of crossover.”

Given the importance of the game, the rivalry matchup, and the attention that comes from kicking off the season, Diaz says he’s confident this game won’t come down to the cliché of “who wants it more.”

“It’s not a game where motivation will be the deciding factor,” Diaz told The Athletic. “It’s going to be a matter of who can sustain their focus over 60 minutes and continue to compete at a very high level over the course of what should be an awesome night for college football.”

An upset would likely propel Miami well into the AP Top 25 and would establish the Hurricanes as a force to be reckoned with in the ACC. But Florida – which comes in at -295 on the money line, meaning a $295 bet would net $100 in winnings – should have enough of a talent edge to leave Orlando with the win.

The Florida vs. Miami matchup is one of two games that will be played on Saturday to begin the NCAA college football season.

Later in the evening, Arizona (-10.5) will travel to Honolulu to take on Hawaii. Arizona has beaten Hawaii in all five of their previous meetings and is expected to walk away with another victory to start their 2019 campaign. But the game should be entertaining: the over/under total has been set at 74.5 points, as Hawaii can certainly score, and the Arizona defense struggled mightily to contain opposing teams last season, allowing over 32 points per game.