I'll be breaking down each of the 2008 Florida Gators' opponents and making predictions game by game. Please feel free to give your input and make your opinions known throughout the series. I am happy to discuss the games.
Game Two vs. Miami, September 6
Info: In 2007, the Miami Hurricanes struggled through a rebuilding season, posting a 5-7 (2-6, ACC) record. Led by new head coach Randy Shannon, the 'Canes started off 2007 well with a 4-1 record. However, Miami was unable to maintain their momentum.
Coach Shannon and the 'Canes lost six of their final seven games, five of those losses coming to unranked opponents. The Hurricanes failed to reach a bowl game in 2007, the first time in a decade that Miami was not involved in postseason play.
Offseason: Miami's offseason had both its up's and its down's. For starters, the 'Canes lost starting quarterback Kyle Wright as well as their top receiver, Darnell Jenkins to graduation. However, Miami returns leading rushers Javarris James and Craig Cooper, as well as their second-leading receiver Sam Shields. The returning trio accounted for 1,839 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns.
On the recruiting trail, Randy Shannon did very well for himself. Shannon's 2008 class is considered by some to be the best recruiting class in the country. Miami received commitments from Arthur Brown and Sean Spence, the top ranked outside linebackers in the ESPN 150. Marcus Forston, ESPN's top-ranked defensive tackle, was also a nice addition.
2008 Outlook: Although Miami has a long way to go before competing for a BCS Championship, Coach Randy Shannon and the Miami staff made great strides toward that goal with an outstanding recruiting class.
The Hurricanes will be vulnerable at the quarterback position due to a lack of experience. True freshmen Jacory Harris and Cannon Smith are competing in a three-way battle with redshirt freshman Robert Marve for the starting job. Randy Shannon has said he will not announce a starter at quarterback until Miami’s season opener against Charleston Southern.
The Hurricanes will not be great, but they have the talent to surprise some people. Miami has a good chance to make a bowl game at the conclusion of the 2008 season, but it all depends on how they fare in ACC play.
Game Prediction: Florida 45 - Miami 24
Despite the talent disparity between Florida and Miami, Randy Shannon and the Hurricanes should make it interesting in Gainesville. Miami will be fired up for this rivalry matchup with the Gators and will not go down without a fight.
Last year's Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow will pick apart the Hurricane defense through the air by distributing the ball to Florida's great luxury of playmakers, notably wide receivers Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy.
Look for the raucous home crowd at "The Swamp" to play a role in the unraveling of Miami's inexperienced offense. Florida will remain undefeated at 2-0 as they head into a bye week. The Gators travel to face SEC foe Tennessee in Knoxville on September 20.