The 150th season of NCAA college football opened with the “Camping World Kickoff” in Orlando, Florida on Saturday night. The No. 8-ranked Florida Gators and the Miami Hurricanes renewed the 81-year-old rivalry between the two schools, playing for the first time in six years. Historically, Miami has owned the series, winning the last seven out of eight games, but the Gators were favored to win this matchup.
Miami opened strong with redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams at the helm. Following eight plays of Miami’s first possession, Bubba Baxa kicked in a 36-yard field goal to put the Hurricanes on the board first. Florida’s first possession yielded the first touchdown of the game after a fake punt. Kadarius Toney caught a 66-yard pass for the touchdown. At the end of the first quarter, the score was 7-3, Florida.
The Hurricanes took advantage of two consecutive fumbles to score the only 10 points of the second quarter, with a 27-yard field goal and then a touchdown with 45 seconds left on the clock. Miami was able to stay on top going into the second half of the game with a 13-7 lead over the Gators. The biggest takeaways from the first half were Florida’s two fumbles and Miami’s eight penalties. Otherwise, the first half stats were pretty even.
The second half started scoreless for nearly the first 10 minutes until Florida converted a field goal with 6:30 left in the quarter. They were able to score again with 30 seconds left on the clock. Sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks threw a six-yard pass to Lamical Perine for a touchdown. The Gators were in the lead at the end of the third quarter by a score of 17-13.
Miami reclaimed the lead following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when DeeJay Dallas ran 50 yards for a touchdown after the penalty put the Hurricanes at the 50-yard line. Despite another Florida penalty for unnecessary roughness, and an interception, Miami failed to score, and kicker Bubba Baxa missed his third field goal attempt, sealing the Hurricanes’ fate.
The Gators took the lead again with a 65-yard bomb to John Hammond followed by a Franks rush into the endzone, scoring the game-winning touchdown. The 24-20 score remained unchanged at the end of four quarters. The \Hurricanes were the underdog coming into this game, and head coach Manny Diaz wasn’t able to get his first win as a head coach against his former boss, Florida head coach Dan Mullen.