The Associated Press – FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.
(AP) When Florida coach Jim McGaffrey said he’d be at Miami-Dade College of Law when he took over the program this spring, he wasn’t joking.
“You have to have the right kind of personality to coach at Florida,” McGaffery said.
He has since said he’ll be coaching there when he returns.
The Gators are in their seventh season at Miami, where they have won at least three national championships in each of the last six seasons.
The program’s first coach, former Miami coach Steve Spurrier, won three national titles.
Miami is No. 4 in the preseason AP poll.
The Hurricanes won their last five games.
Miami has a chance to improve on a season that saw the Gators win just one game before losing to Vanderbilt on Saturday night in their season finale.
“It was a big win for us,” coach Jim Larranaga said.
Florida (6-1, 4-0 SEC) is playing in its fifth straight SEC opener after finishing last season ranked sixth in the league. “
We have to come out and fight and we have to take pride in our work and we’re going to do it.”
Florida (6-1, 4-0 SEC) is playing in its fifth straight SEC opener after finishing last season ranked sixth in the league.
The Heat are 3-0 since moving to South Florida.
The Bulldogs (4-3, 1-4) are 0-6 since moving from Baton Rouge to Gainesville.
Miami leads the nation in scoring defense at 113.3 points per game, but the Gators are averaging 107.7 points.
Miami, the nation’s sixth-ranked defense, is allowing a league-low 103.3 per game.
The offense has been more explosive this season, averaging a league high 4.6 yards per play.
The defensive unit has played the last three games without starting quarterback Jalen Hurts.
He injured his left ankle on Saturday and is listed as questionable for the next two games.
UM coach Jim Harbaugh is a former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at LSU.
Hurts was the Tigers’ starter for the last four games.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in him, a lot more confidence than I did before he got hurt,” Harbaugh said.
The team had a bye this week.
“That was a huge loss for him,” Harbaugh added.
“Obviously, we know the way he’s playing the last couple of games, he’s the most important player on this team.”
Hurts threw for a season-high 329 yards and three touchdowns against LSU, the Tigers winning their second straight in Baton Rouge.
“He’s been a tremendous player this year and has been a true leader for this team,” Florida coach John Chavis said.
A key factor in the Bulldogs’ resurgence this season has been quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who has thrown for 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Mettenberger has been the catalyst for the whole team and that’s why we’ve been so good,” coach Kirby Smart said.
In his first season, the Bulldogs have led the nation with nine wins and lost just three games in the last eight games.
They won six of their last seven.
Miami was 9-2 when winning at Florida State in the 2010 Orange Bowl, the team that made history as the first to win five straight national championships.
“They are playing the best football in the country,” Harbaugh quipped.
The last two games of the season have been particularly hard for the Gators.
The loss to Vanderbilt was the second straight time Florida has lost in Gainesville, and the Bulldogs lost at No. 2 LSU in the Rose Bowl on Feb. 7, 2009.
The game went into overtime before Florida’s defense forced the Tigers into a costly fumble on a touchdown drive that set up a field goal by Miami.
Miami won the game 27-24.
“Our defense was phenomenal last year,” coach Mark Richt said.
“(Last year) we had some injuries, we had a lot turnover and we were really playing good defense in the first half.”
Miami also lost at Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl on Dec. 8.
The Crimson Tide were ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll but fell to No. 5 Alabama by one score after losing at Texas Tech.
The Tigers were ranked in the top 10 of the preseason poll before losing at LSU by two scores.
“When you’re playing in the SEC, it’s a real tough league to play in,” Richt added.
The top five teams in the polls from the preseason are No. 8 Florida, No. 9 Alabama, No 10 Georgia, No 11 LSU and No. 12 Notre Dame.
The SEC championship game is scheduled for Dec. 16 at Texas Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The first-round matchup between Florida and Alabama will be played on Dec., 7. The semif