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After relatively easy openers for each team last week, the real season begins on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium. Florida is currently a -3 point favorite at GTBets, with a total of 49.
Both of these defenses dominated last week, but the offensive side was a little more of a question. Both teams also ran the ball well against smaller schools, the Gators for 262 yards and the Hurricanes for 303 yards. However, neither quarterback was all that great. Jeff Driskel didn't need to do much, but getting 24 points against Toledo isn't a positive sign. They had offensive troubles last season and it didn't look like they figured them out in the first game. At least Mack Brown had a good showing in his first game (112 yards, two TDs) as the full-time starter, replacing Mike Gillislee, who had 1,152 rushing yards in 2012.
Miami scored more points than Florida, but Stephen Morris was probably a little more disappointing than Driskel. In his senior season, Morris plans on going out with a bang, but completing 15-of-27 passes against FAU is not the ideal numbers he was looking for. Duke Johnson dominated on the ground, but that's going to be a much different story against the Gators. Both teams will likely have a tougher time on the ground this week which is why the quarterbacks will be called upon more often.
The Gators have the better defense, but on the road that may not be the case. In four true road games last year, Florida gave up 20 points per game, which was a few above its season average. The Hurricanes defense is the biggest iffy spot for them this season as they weren't all that great a year ago. Giving up six points to Florida Atlantic is great, but playing a powerhouse like Florida is another question in itself.
Neither team covered last week even though their defenses played a little better than expected with both games hitting the under. That could easily be the case in this game as well if both QBs fail to get anything going for their respective sides.
Miami got rolled by almost 40 points in its big non-conference game last year at Kansas State. This game will be a testament to where the Hurricanes are at on a national level. A loss will keep them out of the Top 25 for the foreseeable future. As for the Gators, this is just another game for them. Like every other game, they cannot lose this one if they want to be in talks for the National Championship. Overall it will be a nice test for Florida's offense because they'll actually need to score if they want to win.
Both teams have pretty favorable numbers so nothing stands out. The Gators are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games and the Hurricanes have the same record in their last six home games. In the points department, most numbers point to the under with it hitting nine times in Florida's last 11 games vs. the ACC and six times in Miami's last eight games overall.
Had this game been played a year ago, our score prediction model would have had Florida on top 29-16. Although, if we used data from only the final few games of last year, that gap became less, but still had the Gators on top by a score of 26-22.
The Gators were the better team last year due to one of the top defensive units in the nation. This year they return just 4 starters to that unit. The Hurricanes on the other hand, were a decent team a year ago at 7-6, that struggled defensively and were beaten soundly by the 3 best teams they faced with 2 of those being blowouts. They are however, loaded with returning starters.
With the Gators struggles offensively and their defense figuring to be pretty good, combined with the likelihood of the Hurricanes defense being vastly improved, we think the Under 49 may be the way to go in this one.
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