It’ll be a number of old faces in new places when Florida hosts Florida Atlantic in Saturday’s non-conference matchup at The Swamp.

Fifty-three players from the two schools formerly played together at 16 high schools across Florida and will reunite when the two teams kick off at noon.

The eighth-ranked Gators rate as the heavy favorite after winning the SEC East crown for the first time since 2009, but coach Jim McElwain expects a fight because of the players’ previous familiarity with one another.

“There’s a ton to prove for guys,” he said, “and they know how hard these guys will play. They’ve got some weapons.”

That knowledge of one another extends to the coaching staff as well as second-year FAU coach Charlie Partridge and Florida associate head coach/linebackers coach Randy Shannon served together on Bret Bielema’s staff at Arkansas two seasons ago. Gators receivers coach Kerry Dixon worked on Partridge’s first FAU staff last season.

Additionally, Owls freshman quarterback Jason Driskel brings a familiar name to Florida fans. Driskel is the younger brother of former Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel, who transferred to Louisiana Tech for his final year of eligibility. Driskel has split time with Owls senior Jaquez Johnson.

McElwain said that he and his players expect a competitive game.

“Our guys understand the type of talent they have,” he said.

Florida Atlantic fell to 2-8 and 2-5 within Conference USA after dropping a 24-17 decision to Middle Tennessee in last week’s home finale. Johnson threw for 214 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a pick, while Jenson Stoshak totaled 94 yards on 3 catches to narrowly miss his fifth 100-yard game of the season.

McElwain couldn’t help but take a verbal jab at the Owls earlier this week when he told his players that FAU has a lot of players who wish they were Gators.

Sophomore cornerback Jalen Tabor didn’t back off from that assertion when asked about it.

“I think those guys would love to be in our shoes, so they’re going to come in here and give us their best shot,” Tabor said.