What to watch for: Florida vs. Miami

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Florida and Miami clash this week in the SEC’s premier non-conference matchup in South Florida. The Hurricanes hold the overall 28-26 edge and have won seven of the last 11 since 1982. Florida won the last game in 2008, 26-3.

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Here’s what to look for Saturday:

Containing the Duke: No, not John Wayne – Miami RB Duke Johnson. The Hurricanes’ feature back has the speed of former Gator Chris Rainey with more meat on ‘em. Time to die? Not quite. Johnson ran for 186 yards on 19 carries against FAU, including a 53-yard TD. Florida’s ability to contain Johnson and the running game will be paramount. Florida allowed just nine carries for 46 yards to Toledo’s 1,500-yard rusher last week. The defense allowed just 205 total yards – 50 rushing yards – in their dominant showing. But Miami isn’t Toledo, and they will feature better offensive line and skill position play.

Trench play: Will Muschamp understands building a football team. He understands that winning in the SEC is built from the inside out, and although it’s not sexy, it’s effective. Florida may have the SEC’s best combo of offensive and defensive lines, along with the best defense. The O-line was much improved Saturday, allowing just two sacks and plowing the way for 262 rushing yards. Likewise, the defensive line dominated the game, and if not for some garbage offside penalties, Toledo’s offense would have been non-existent. DTs Dominique Easley and Leon Orr disrupted Toledo’s offense the entire game. Miami is a different animal, but they aren’t dominant on either side of the ball.

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Stick to ugly: It’s Florida’s game; the Gators embrace ugly. Muschamp doesn’t care if you want 30 points against Toledo, and he doesn’t care if you want to see more downfield throws. I’ll agree the vertical passing game has to improve upon last year if Florida wants win the SEC Championship. The Gators dominated time of possession 39:48 to Toledo’s 20:12, a signature during last year’s 11-win season. All Florida wants to do is beat people up. Winning the time of possession will keep the ball out of Duke Johnson’s hands and keep Florida running it down the Hurricane’s throat.

They’re baaaack: Florida gets suspended players in CB Loucheiz Purifoy, LB Antonio Morrison and DT Darious Cummings back, as well as RB Matt Jones from a preseason illness. All five are impact players and will play major roles Saturday. How will missing week one affect each? The player who will be most affected is Matt Jones, who lost as much as 10 pounds due to the illness, and Florida won’t know how game ready he is until Saturday. Purifoy, Morrison and Cummings should be fine.

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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