Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 85°F, partly cloudy / scattered t-stomrs (20%), winds SW at 6 mph
Time: 12:21 p.m. EDT
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TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Cara Capuano) [Affiliates]
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|No. 10 FLORIDA GATORS||TOLEDO ROCKETS|
|Head Coach: Will Muschamp||Head Coach: Matt Campbell|
|Record: 0-0||Record: 0-0|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Mid-American|
|Roster | Schedule||Roster | Schedule|
Odds: Florida -22 | O/U: 55.5
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida and Toledo have never played on the gridiron*, but UF is 14-1 in the last two seasons against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» The Rockets have never played a team from the SEC.
» The Gators are 79-27 all-time in season openers (64-6 in Gainesville) and have won 23-straight games to begin a season, the longest streak in the SEC and second-longest streak in the nation (Nebraska, 27).
» UF opens the 2013 campaign ranked in the polls for the 23rd-straight season but in the top 10 for the first time since 2010.
» Toledo finished 9-4 (6-2 MAC) in 2012 and are also coming a devastating bowl game loss, falling 41-15 to Utah in the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
» Entering the season, Florida has what is widely considered as the toughest schedule in the country with four games scheduled against preseason top-15 opponents plus a road game at Miami in Week 2.
» In 2012, the Gators finished a 7-0 at home for just the third time in school history, a mark that matched the 2006 and 2009 UF teams.
» Florida is 12-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards). The Gators are also 14-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 10-2 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 12-3 when scoring first (6-5 when an opponent scores first) and 14-1 when leading at the half (4-7 when tied or trailing at the break).
» UF’s .878 (129-18) home winning percentage is best in the nation since 1990.
» Florida still leads the nation in interceptions (96), interception return yards (1,688) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (16) since 2008.
» Wide receivers coach Joker Phillips and special teams coordinator Jeff Choate are new additions to the Gators’ coaching staff. Also helping the team this season are thee former Florida players – undergraduate assistant Mike Peterson and graduate assistants Chris Leak and Duke Lemmens.
» Safety Jordan Haden, the brother of Joe Haden who transferred to Toledo after enrolling at UF in the spring of 2010, injured his collarbone and will not play Saturday.
» One-time Gators wide receiver commit Rodney Adams, who was unable to qualify academically, accepted an offer from the Rockets and will play in The Swamp.
» Toledo bested Florida in every offensive category rank in 2012, coming in ahead of their hosts in rushing offense (35-39), passing offense (48-114), total offense (32-103) and scoring offense (44-76) last season. The Gators, however, were miles ahead in defensive ranks including rushing defense (4-78), passing defense (17-116), total defense (5-109) and scoring defense (5-67).
Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!
LAST TIME OUT* KNOW THE OPPONENT
Toledo is led by a trio of talented offensive playmakers in quarterback Terrance Owens, running back David Fluellen and wide receiver Bernard Reedy. Owens is a dual-threat signal caller who is just as effective with his legs as with his arm, especially considering the Rockets like to run an up-tempo offense. Fluellen rushed for 1,498 yards and 13 touchdowns last season and will be the primary focus of the Gators’ notoriously stingy defensive line. Voted All-MAC at receiver, kick returner and punt returner, Reedy is an explosive slot receiver – and a Florida native – who caught 88 passes for 1,120 yards and six touchdowns (along with four return touchdowns) last year. These are just three of nine returning offensive starters for Toledo.
The Rockets’ defense is another story. Not a single Toledo defensive lineman has ever started a collegiate game, which is great news for Florida’s experienced offensive line, especially considering the fact that it is banged up on the right side and still needs time to gel at the start of the season. The player to watch on defense, however, is defensive end Jayrone Elliot, a senior who registered six sacks last season.
INJURIES AND ABSENCES*
» Active (5): Junior fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring), senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (knee), freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (shoulder), sophomore wide receiver Raphael Andrades (turf toe), freshman defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick (not suspended)
» Injured (5): Sophomore running back Matt Jones (viral infection), redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (pectoral), redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose (ACL – season), redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green (labrum – season), freshman LB Matt Rolin (ACL – season)
» Suspended (5): Sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison, junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, senior defensive tackle Darious Cummings, sophomore wide receiver Latroy Pittman, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Quinteze Williams
* As of Friday at 9 p.m.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
An entire offseason of preparation, tons of hype about an improved offense and loaded expectations in Muschamp’s third year at the helm of the Gators are more than enough for the team to deal with heading into its season opener. Factor in that Florida appeared to struggle in last year’s opener against Bowling Green (27-14) and squeaked by a win late in the season against Louisiana-Lafayette (27-20), and Gators fans are demanding to see some explosive playmaking and incredibly stingy defense from the Florida football team. In all actuality, the Gators just need to make sure they can put away the Rockets in a timely manner so the starters can come out of the game and rest for next week’s road trip to face Miami.
Nearly a four-touchdown underdog, Toledo has everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose from Saturday’s contest. The Rockets could pull off an enormous upset, give UF a really tough game or simply get creamed and it would not matter much. What’s most important for Toledo is finding a positive note to start the season on in hopes that the momentum will translate to its MAC schedule.