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Florida-Miami football series up in air

GAINESVILLE

Saturday's game between Florida and Miami is a sold-out, highly anticipated matchup between fans of the two schools, and it's the last meeting between the rivals for the foreseeable future.

Finances and logistics will see to that.

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said the Gators stand to lose between $2.5 million and $3 million without a seventh home game this season. The University Athletic Association has spent the past four years tucking away about $700,000 to help offset the lost revenue.

And if the SEC moves to nine league games in 2014, as expected, Foley said barring a neutral-site game, it's unlikely the Gators will be able to continue the series with a home-and-home agreement.

"When you take a game off campus, that's significant dollars," he said.

The Gators and Hurricanes have met five times since 2000, twice in Gainesville, once in Miami — a 38-33 Hurricanes victory. Florida's last victory at Miami was 35-23 in 1985, when UM's Vinny Testaverde made his first college start. No current Gator was born then, which is why it's not surprising Florida QB Jeff Driskel struggled Monday to recite any Florida-Miami memories he has from growing up.

"I don't really have too many (memories)," Driskel said. "I saw (former Gator) Ahmad Black tweet the other day one of the scores to a game that we won. That's about all I know of the history of Florida-Miami. Just worried about this year."

Florida coach Will Muschamp said though the players might not be as accustomed to the rivalry as others, such as Florida State, he expects the same intensity and the game hasn't lost its luster.

"We're very well aware of each other and have great respect for their program, as I'm sure they do for us as well," Muschamp said. "I don't know that the history is as much as the carryover of maybe knowing players on the other team and developing, whether you played with them in high school or against them in high school, going on about them and having respect about them."

EARLY FANFARE: Miami has added seats at Sun Life Stadium, and the university is opening the gates at 6 a.m. to let fans begin tailgating for the noon kickoff. Brock Berlin, who was a Gator QB from 2000-01 then transferred to Miami, is the honorary captain for the Hurricanes.

JONES TO RETURN: After spending August recovering from a viral infection he contracted earlier in the month, UF starting RB Matt Jones is scheduled to play Saturday. How much and how effective the Armwood grad will be is unknown. "Matt will play this week," Mushcamp said. "We feel pretty good about his progress. As we work through the week, we'll be able to know how much he will be able to contribute, but he certainly will play."

YOUTH AND DEPTH: Florida played 15 freshmen in Saturday's opener. With starters CB Louchiez Purifoy and LB Antonio Morrison suspended and seven players gone from last year's defense, lack of depth appeared to be an issue. But the Gators held high-powered Toledo to 205 total yards and DL Dominique Easley said he was never concerned.

"That's what Florida is about, speed," Easley said. "Speed and power. Speed and explosiveness. That's what we've been working on. Last year was the same thing and the young guys have learned from the older guys, so there's no step taken back."

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

Florida-Miami football series up in air 09/02/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 2, 2013 9:25pm]
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