Florida-Miami Preview

Published Sep. 3, 2013 5:59 p.m. EDT

The Florida-Miami rivalry has undergone one 13-year hiatus. There's no telling how long the next one might be.

With the SEC potentially moving to a nine-game conference schedule, Saturday's meeting between No. 12 Florida and Miami might not be repeated for a long time.

"You never say never, but it's really, really difficult,'' Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said Monday.

The teams met every year from 1944-87 and then didn't play again until 2001.


Foley cited financial concerns, noting that the Gators had to set aside $700,000 to compensate for a lost home game Saturday, when they'll visit Sun Life Stadium instead.

What would be left behind is one of the most bitter rivalries in college sports, from Florida fans throwing peaches at the Peach Bowl-bound Hurricanes in 1980 to a Bourbon Street tussle involving players from both teams prior to the 2001 Sugar Bowl.

The enmity only continued in their latest matchup in 2008, when then-Florida coach Urban Meyer was accused of running up the score in the Gators' 26-3 victory, which broke the Hurricanes' six-game winning streak in the series that included two bowl games.

Miami coach Al Golden hopes this won't be the last chapter of the fabled rivalry.

"It has great significance in the state, so I would be for (another game), for sure," Golden said.

This installment will see the season debut of Florida running back Matt Jones after the sophomore missed the opener while recovering from a viral infection. Jones rushed for 275 yards last season.

The Gators didn't miss him too much last week as Jeff Driskel went 17 of 22 for 153 yards and Mack Brown ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries in a 24-6 victory over Toledo.

"I felt like I was useless for the last couple of years," said Brown, who had 40 carries in 25 games over his first three seasons in Gainesville. "Getting an opportunity. Just took it and ran with it. It felt good, man. I can't really express it."

The Hurricanes dealt with running back health issues of their own last week, as Duke Johnson recorded a career-high 186 rushing yards against Florida Atlantic but missed most of the second half after being shaken up on a play.

Before he left, he helped Miami overcome a slow offensive start with a 53-yard second-quarter touchdown run that gave the Hurricanes a 10-0 lead in a 34-6 victory.

"Duke Johnson is an outstanding player," Florida coach Will Muschamp told the team's official website. "He's very similar to a Chris Rainey, but a bigger version of that, a guy that can full-speed one cut and get the ball vertical and make people miss in space. He runs hard, runs tough and is an outstanding receiver out of the backfield."

The Hurricanes needed Johnson with their passing game sputtering. Stephen Morris, who ended last season on a tear and is expected to make a big leap this season, went 15 of 27 for 160 yards.

"We have to throw and catch better," Golden said. "We weren't as sharp as we need to be and that's it. No excuses. We protected well, except for one time, but other than that we have to throw and catch the ball better. We have to be more precise in our routes."

Morris chose to attend Miami after being heavily recruited by both the Hurricanes and Gators.

''What is there to talk about? Sept. 7, noon, it is what it is,'' Morris said, a sly smile on his face. ''We'll be there.''

Florida, which had five players suspended for the opener, will get back linebacker Antonio Morrison, defensive tackle Darious Cummings, cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy and offensive lineman Quinteze Williams. Purifoy finished fourth on the team with 51 tackles last year.

"We have consequences in our program. Our players understand that. They move forward," Muschamp said. "That's why you recruit and that's why you have a deep roster."