No. 8 Florida and Miami had the national stage all to themselves on Saturday night, and the Gators did just enough to earn a 24-20 victory at Orlando's Camping World Stadium.
The kickoff to the 150th season of college football pitted two in-state rivals in a rare meeting. With a sellout announced crowd of 66,543 looking on, the sloppy season opener featured 23 penalties, along with endless mistakes and missed opportunities.
But there was plenty of drama.
"Last five minutes of the game, I aged 10 years," Florida coach Dan Mullen said. "That was exhausting."
Two pass-interference penalties by the Gators during the final two minutes allowed the Hurricanes to hang around.
Florida leaned heavily on its defense, which sacked redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams a staggering 10 times and had 16 tackles for a loss.
The Gators' struggling offense and quarterback Feleipe Franks did rise to the occasion one time when it mattered. It ultimately proved enough.
With his team trailing 20-17, Franks had been off the mark much of the night when he threw a perfect strike to senior receiver Josh Hammond for 65 yards to set up a 3-yard scoring run by Franks three plays later with 8:08 remaining.
Florida stopped Miami on fourth-and-9 with 4:30 remaining, registering the Gators' seventh sack of Williams, who was making his first start. But on the next play, Franks threw the ball right into the hands of Miami's Romeo Finley, setting the stage for a wild finish.
The Gators won for just the second time in their past nine meetings with the Hurricanes.
"We don't have the maturity level to see a victory through," first-year Miami coach Manny Diaz said. "That's a maturing process we have to go through."
Florida suspended four players, including safety Brad Stewart and defensive tackle Tedarrell Slaton, for the opener. Miami, meanwhile, suspended sophomore cornerback DJ Ivey for a "violation of team rules."
Huskies QB leaving
Quarterback Jake Haener is leaving No. 13 Washington after losing a camp battle for the starting job to Georgia transfer Jacob Eason.
Washington released a statement on Saturday announcing Haener was leaving the program effective immediately. A day earlier, Washington coach Chris Petersen announced Eason would be the starter for the opener against Eastern Washington next week but indicated Haener would play.
"He should, he deserves it and he will," Petersen said of Haener on Friday.
Haener becomes the second quarterback to transfer from Washington this calendar year.