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Gators-Hurricanes opener scored big audience for ESPN

Florida Football Insiders



Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It comes as no surprise that the opening prime time game of the college football season between the Florida Gators and the Miami Hurricanes scored big with television viewers.

ESPN released preliminary numbers Monday afternoon that showed the game average around 6 million viewers Saturday night:

And the final half-hour conclusion of the game broadcast that saw Florida hang on for aΒ  dramatic 24 – 20 win had 7.4 million viewers.

The network boasted that it was the best viewership for an opening Saturday night game on record and that it was the second most watched ESPN Saturday prime time game of the last three seasons.

Now, a couple of important points:

ESPN knew that there would be a large audience for a standalone game being played the week before the barrage of other college football begins this coming weekend. That’s why they negotiated with Florida and Miami to move the game from it’s original Saturday August 31st night time start.

And, the audience could have potentially been even bigger had there been a more National flare to the match up, as opposed to it being an in-state rivalry game between the Gators and the Canes. Obiviously, teams like USC, Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State, etc. have large brand name appeal everywhere.

Then again, Florida and Miami have enjoyed repeated National Championship success and great notoriety for the past 30 years, as well.

In the end, “the Worldwide Leader in Sports Television” got to have a full day of synergy, including during their “College GameDay” pre-game show live from Disney World. And, then more than two hours of build up before kickoff Saturday night.

This Saturday will have plenty of competition for college football eyeballs in primetime.

ESPN will show the Seminoles opening game of 2019, as they play host to Boise State in Jacksonville at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, a half hour later, ABC will show the prime-time national matchup of Pac 12 power Oregon and SEC contender Auburn at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

Add to that, the SEC Network will have third-ranked Georgia traveling to Vanderbilt in an SEC season opener also at 7:30.

Needless to say, the audience will definitely be fragmented among those broadcasts this week.

Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders



Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.

The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:

A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.

With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.

As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.

Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.

It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.

Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.

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Florida Gators

Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King



Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.

The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother ofΒ  former DB C.J. Henderson.

Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.

The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.

Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?

Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.

The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.

Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.

Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.

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