While I will almost assuredly be aiming for a live over via in-game betting in the Khalil Tate vs. Cole McDonald nightcap, let’s venture to the Sunshine State to try and get off to a good start this season. SI Gambling will be using current odds from New Jersey sportsbooks (FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill, PointsBet) for best bets every week.
Florida returns 12 starters from last season’s 10-3 team, but the one area where the Gators lost a lot was on the offensive line. They have to replace four linemen (Martez Ivey, Jawann Taylor, Tyler Jordan and Fred Johnson) who combined for 141 starts, including 51 in 2018.
This was an OL that allowed the lowest sack rate on passing downs in the country last season, per Bill Connelly. But trouble often occurred when there was pressure generated on quarterback Feleipe Franks. He completed just 25.3% of his throws (which was last among qualified Power 5 quarterbacks) and had a 62.3 passer rating (53rd out of 64 qualified P5 QBs), per ESPN’s David Hale.
Miami returns five starters from a front seven that was largely responsible for accumulating the nation’s highest adjusted sack rate. The Hurricanes also ranked first last season in havoc rate—which is adding up a defense’s total number of tackles for a loss, passes defensed and forced fumbles, and dividing all of that by total plays. Against an offensive line with several new faces and a quarterback that has been a disaster vs. pressure, this Miami defense will be licking its chops.
On offense, redshirt freshman Jarren Williams will be making his first career start. He’s thrown just three passes in game action, and it came in last year’s 77–0 Week 2 wallop over Savannah State. This will also be the first game under new offensive coordinator Dan Enos, who last served as Alabama’s quarterbacks coach. Going up against a Florida defense with seven returning starters and a blitz-happy defensive coordinator in Todd Grantham will make life chaotic for a Miami offense undergoing several key changes.
And when Williams does get passes off before Florida’s pass-rushers reach him, it’ll be against one of the country’s stingiest secondaries that features the star cornerback tandem of CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson. While Florida’s defense is susceptible to big plays given how often it blitzes, I’m not sure how often Williams will take advantage in his first start.
I think this will be a game dominated by the defenses, especially early on with the offenses adjusting to their new personnel. This will be a hard-fought rivalry game to kick off the season, where every yard is earned. It’s tough to envision many points scored in this one, let alone in the game’s first 30 minutes.