Throughout the course of every season, analysts and fans always debate who the best teams are in the nation. Although it seems to be back and forth between Clemson and Alabama for the national champion, there is another big title that only fans in the state of Florida cherish, “The best team in Florida”. This is a title that every football fan in Florida wants but is only given to the team with the best record, due to the lack of head to head matchups. Last year it came down to UCF and UF as the top two teams based on their record and performances each week. However, UM and FSU seem to have taken a step backwards in terms of their standards, especially not making a bowl game.
The Importance of the 2019 season
The Miami Hurricanes have the rare ability to showcase their potential throughout the state this year as they play UF, FIU, and FSU. It is not a common sight for the Big 3 schools to all play each other in the same season. This season is the definition of bragging rights between the Big 3 programs as they all play this year for the first time since 2013. Heading into the year the Hurricanes have a slight win streak over the Gators and Seminoles, which is something the ‘Canes haven't had on their side in a while.
August 24, 2019
As Manny Diaz is set to take on the new role as the Head Coach, he starts off 0-0 and must find ways to have that changed to 1-0 by August 25. In his matchup against Dan Mullen, his former colleague and now foe, Coach Diaz has to win on matchups and protecting the football. This game will feature a crowd in favor of UF that will be relentless and loud the entire game, and even louder when the ‘Canes have the rock. UM must be able to start out with a touchdown lead and always have the upper edge in play calling and playmaking abilities. There has to be play calls that confuse the Gators and have them fighting from behind. Just a year ago the top ten team in the state was UM, and it is known that rankings don't mean the most when it comes down to in state rivalries.
The Florida Gators are favored by over a touchdown and rightfully so. They were the better team last year and even had the better quarterback play. With the Gators losing some quality starters in the draft, this will help the ‘Canes utilize their strengths and attack where the Gators are at their weakest. Both teams will feature poor play at the O-line, which forces the quarterbacks and running backs to step up and create plays on their own. This game will be heavily relied on players’ abilities to make plays and step up in bigger roles for the team.
Prediction : Miami 31- Florida 24
The inexperience at O-line versus a very talented UM D-line group, featuring some NFL talent, combined with a linebacker unit with the physical and mental toughness to cause issues for the opposing offense. The defense will need to be in the backfield all game and have Felipe Franks force throws and overwhelm him with different coverages. The expectation for Miami’s offense is to be able to incorporate multiple crossing routes and motions that will get players in space and have the opposing defense tired by the fourth quarter. This game will come down to toughness, discipline, and turnovers.
November 2, 2019
Before the departure of Mark Richt, the program was left with a win streak of 2 games on the Seminoles. Coming off a 5-7 record, the ‘Noles need to rebuild and find ways to be disciplined on and off the field. With Willie Taggert already getting mixed emotions and not having a sustainable roster, the Hurricanes must take advantage of this matchup and extend the win streak to three games. FSU is a team with talent and won't be a walk in the park. This game needs to be a battle all four quarters and could be a defensive game.
Just like UM, UF and FSU also lost players to the draft and to graduation. These departures will help UM come game-day. UM will especially benefit from Brian Burns (DE) declaring for the draft. He is a local talent from powerhouse American Heritage High School, dominating during his time at FSU. Regarding UF, they lost four starters on their O-line and some of their best starters on defense. These departures puts Miami in chances to compete and attack on positions with not much game time experience.
This game will take place in the Doak, which is never an easy place to play during this rival. In 2017, this game was back and forth and lived up to expectation from the rich history of the two programs. With the addition of FSU’s new OC (Coach Briles), UM must get used to a passing offense similar to an air raid, which can showcase deep balls and will rely on receivers trying to get yards after the catch. If UM is able to compete with FSU’s talent and swarm the ball, the outcome should be similar to the last two seasons. Coach Diaz must get the edge in this matchup and get his own win streak against FSU during the Willie Taggert era.
Prediction: Miami 35 - Florida State 21
UM must find ways of containing big plays and not allow any missed tackles/errors. FSU faces a similar issue on the O-line and will have a hard time stopping the Hurricanes off the edge. In this matchup, UM may have the better team on paper, but must show consistency and dominate between the lines. Hopefully by this time of the year, the ‘Canes are healthy and are being lead by their true QB1.
These two matchups alone could determine which school gets the top recruits in Florida. All three have relatively new coaches and could all be in a different situation a year from now. The Gators are the favorite as of now, but everyone knows that these preseason predictions tend to be impossible to predict. Miami has the ability to win every game this season and make a push for the coastal. Although UM isn't at Clemsons level, wins throughout the conference and in state will work wonders for Miami in the future.