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It's going to be closer than you think ...

FIRST, your daily UF-related links in sports section of The Miami Herald...
LINK: Ex-Aquinas star gets rare start against his boyhood team
LINK: Marve has UF football in the dark
LINK: UM defense not afraid
LINK: UM players expect taunts from UF fans

GAINESVILLE -- Here's a reassuring fact for Gators fans: Since Florida coach Urban Meyer took over the helm in Hogtown, he has never lost to an instate rival, 5-0. On the other hand, Florida hasn't beaten Miami since 1985. The Gators have lost six straight to the Canes since then.

At least one thing is for sure on the eve of this important rivalry game, one of those streaks will be broken.

And don't think for a second that this rivalry has lost luster because it's not played every year. Actually, it seems like quite the opposite is true. UF-UM is kind of like anticipating the World Cup or the Olympics. It only happens once every four years or so.

According to Rivals.com, more than 30 recruits are traveling to Gainesville on Saturday for this rivalry game. Many of those players are from South Florida. Florida's new $28 million Gateway of Champions is in place to wow those recruits. The Gators are ranked No.5 in country and are favored to beat Miami by three touchdowns. If ever there was a year the Gators could make a major dent in recruiting Miami-Dade County, then this seems like the year.

Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas features four players in this rivalry game: From Uf, safety Major Wright and offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert.  From UM, safety Anthony Reddick and receiver Leonard Hankerson. Reddick, a senior, was a mentor to Wright, a sophomore, when Wright transferred from Tallahassee Godby to St. Thomas his sophomore year.

What's more Wright and Hankerson, a sophomore, are very good friends. The two buddies carpooled to high school together and hung out together on the weekends and summers while in high school.

Wait ... there's more. Gilbert, a redshirt sophomore, is very good friends with Reddick. Reddick grew up behind Gilbert's grandmother's house and, according to Gilbert's older sister, Reddick basically taught Gilbert how to play football when the two were young.

Did anyone watch Vandy vs. South Carolina last night? Stunning. (By the way, Vandy has the best uniforms in the Southeastern Conference.)

There isn't much of a connection here other than UM redshirt freshman quarterback Robert Marve broke all of Tim Tebow's high school records one year after Tebow graduated from Ponte Vedra Beach Nease. Tebow chuckled and then looked like he wanted to rip out my throat when I reminded him of this fact earlier in the week.

While Tebow was busy winning the Heisman Trophy last season, Marve was recovering from surgery to his left (non-throwing) wrist and also getting in trouble with the Coral Gables police for breaking a car's mirror (girl problems). We bring up the surgery and Marve's run-in with Johnny Law to remind everyone why Saturday is the first start of Marve's career. UM coach Randy Shannon suspended Marve for the Canes season opener because of the mirror thing. Now Marve is starting the first game of his career in The Swamp against the No.5 team in the country. Talk about trial by fire.

Florida played some three-linemen sets in the season opener against Hawaii. Don't expect that hybrid stuff on Saturday against The U. Miami's running backs, Javarris James and Graig Cooper, are both talented football players and Miami's offensive line is a formidable. This will be the first test of the season for Florida's defense. The Gators looked great last week against Hawaii (six turnovers) but, let's face it, Hawaii was absolutely terrible.

Stopping Miami's running attack is all Florida needs to do to win this game. I'll repeat that: Stopping Miami's running attack is all Florida needs to do to win this game. Florida will force Marve to throw. That's the plan.

I posted this yesterday. UF 31, Miami 28. A Miami defensive touchdown here, a UF fumble there and this ball game goes undecided until the fourth quarter. Good thing the Gators have that guy named Tim Tebow. Leadership and one year of starting experience pays off for Tebow against the Canes.

Just to remind everyone why we love rivalry games, we'll post the infamous Louis Murphy-dissing-The-U audio file one last time. Everyone has been talking about it, and this is the only place in the world you can listen to it. AND IT'S FOR FREE!

Produced and edited by Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald 

Check back tomorrow for the PREGAME PODCAST! Me and my buddy Manny Navarro (UM beat writer) will preview Gators vs. Canes with our first co-podcast since we both covered high schools together in South Florida.



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