10 most important college football games of 2019 involving Florida teams

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor
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Miami's DeeJay Dallas is horse-collar tackled by Florida State's Dontavious Jackson in the first half, Oct. 6, 2018, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Here's a glance at the 10 most important games involving college football teams from the state of Florida.

Florida vs. Miami in Orlando, Aug. 24

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Miami and Florida played annually from 1944 until 1987, but the schools have only met six times since. The Hurricanes won the last meeting, 21-16, at home in 2013. Miami leads the all-time series 29-26 and has won seven of the last eight meetings dating to 1986. This will be the first meeting in Orlando since Florida's 19-10 win in 1976.

Florida State vs. Boise State in Jacksonville, Aug. 31

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Florida State really needs a season-opening win against Boise State to get the fan base excited about the future under Willie Taggart. He had all the momentum headed into his inaugural game as Florida State's coach. Then the Seminoles fell flat in a 24-3 loss to Virginia Tech on Labor Day evening, effectively ending the honeymoon. This will be the first look at the offense under new coordinator Kendal Briles. If the Seminoles don't look improved in Jacksonville, Taggart and his staff could be in for a long season.

UCF at FAU, Sept. 7 

AP Photo/John Raoux

Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton is back for his senior season after running for three touchdowns and throwing for three others in UCF's 56-36 win against Florida Atlantic last season. Devin Singletary, who accounted for three of FAU's five touchdowns that game, left early for the NFL draft. So did backup Kerrith Whyte Jr., who scored the other two. The Owls will need to find a running back to carry the load in 2019. UCF's only loss the past two seasons was to LSU in the New Year's Day Fiesta Bowl. That game was played without Milton, who suffered a season-ending injury in November. Milton has thrown for 8,683 yards and 72 touchdowns in three seasons, but he's expected to miss all of 2019 while rehabilitating from the gruesome knee injury that nearly cost him his leg.

Florida State at Clemson, Oct. 12 

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Florida State won 11 straight against Clemson in as many years after joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1992. But the Tigers are 10-6 against FSU since that breakthrough victory in 2003. The Seminoles haven't beaten Clemson in the years since former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston bolted for the NFL. The Tigers have won four in a row, including an embarrassing 59-10 shellacking last season in Tallahassee. It doesn't get any easier for FSU at "Death Valley," where the Tigers are 7-1 against the Seminoles since 2003. The winner of this game has gone on to represent the Atlantic Division in the ACC title game since 2009. No team other than Clemson or FSU has laid claim to the ACC crown since 2011.

Miami at Florida State, Nov. 2 

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After snapping a seven-game losing streak to Florida State in 2017, Miami has won two in a row against the Seminoles. The Hurricanes had to battle back from a 27-7 deficit in the third quarter to beat FSU 28-27 for their first win at home since 2004. Now they've got to go back to Tallahassee, where the game was decided with six seconds left in a 24-20 win the last time they played there. The Seminoles are 10-5 against Miami since the Hurricanes joined the ACC in 2004.

Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville, Nov. 2

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If the Gators expect to compete for Southeastern Conference championships again, they'll have to get past the big dawgs of the Eastern Division. Georgia won the SEC in 2017 and represented the East in last year's championship game, outscoring Florida 78-24 each of the past two season on the way to Atlanta. Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks has improved since Dan Mullen took over, completing 13-of-21 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Bulldogs. He was also sacked just once after throwing for 30 yards and getting sacked five times in 2017.

FIU at FAU, Nov. 9

Bryan Hursh

FAU is 2-0 against Florida International since Lane Kiffin took over in Boca Raton. The Owls lead the all-time series 12-4, but FIU was 4-2 in the six seasons prior to Kiffin's arrival. FAU won 49-14 last year and 52-24 the last time the teams met at FAU Stadium in 2017. Still, the Panthers are coming off back-to-back winning seasons and could challenge FAU for the Conference USA East Division crown in 2019.

Miami vs. FIU at Marlins Park, Nov. 23

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FIU head coach Butch Davis will get another crack at his former team in this crosstown rivalry game, which will be played at Marlins Park. Of course, the Major League Baseball stadium was built on the site of the old Orange Bowl, where the Hurricanes used to call home. It was also the site of a sideline-clearing melee in 2006 that resulted in the suspension of 31 players -- 13 from Miami and 18 from FIU, two of whom were later dismissed. The Hurricanes are 3-0 against the Panthers, winning 35-0 in 2006, 23-9 in 2007 and 31-17 last year.

USF at UCF, Nov. 29 

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South Florida leads the all-time series 6-4, but UCF is 4-2 since the teams began playing annually in 2013. The Bulls started last season 7-0 before losing their final six games. That included a 38-10 loss to UCF, but it cost the Knights their quarterback. Former USF defensive back Mazzi Wilkins made the season-ending tackle in the second quarter. He later received death threats and was the recipient of racial slurs, presumably from angry UCF fans. Both teams will be hungry for payback, but USF and head coach Charlie Strong have more to lose if, well, they lose to their neighbor along Interstate 4 again.

Florida State at Florida, Nov. 30 

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The Gators snapped a five-game losing streak to Florida State with a 41-14 win in Tallahassee last season. Not only did the Gators win, but they ensured the Seminoles of their first losing season since 1976 and prevented them from making a bowl game for the first time since 1982. Ouch! Will this be the year the Gators break their losing streak to the Seminoles in Gainesville? Florida hasn't been victorious on its home field since former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow played his final game there in 2009. 

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