- Associated Press - Thursday, September 1, 2016

UMass (3-9 last season) at No. 25 Florida (10-4), 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Line: Florida by 36½.

Series Record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Florida has won 26 consecutive season openers, the longest active streak in the country. There’s no reason to think the Gators won’t extend it against UMass, a now-independent program that is just 8-40 since moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision five years ago.

KEY MATCHUP

Florida’s offensive line vs. UMass’s defensive front. The Gators allowed 45 sacks last season, the most in the nation, and improving the line will be paramount to the team having more offensive success in coach Jim McElwain’s second season. The line features plenty of talent and a little experience now since sophomores Martez Ivey, Fred Johnson and Tyler Jordan started together in the Citrus Bowl.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

UMass: TE Adam Breneman. Coach Mark Whipple, who once served as Miami’s offensive coordinator, compares Breneman to former Hurricanes standout Jimmy Graham. Breneman caught 15 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns for Penn State before being sidelined by chronic knee ailments. He is trying to revive his college career with the Minutemen.

Florida: QB Luke Del Rio. The college journeyman is making his first career start after failing to find playing time at Alabama and Oregon State. He is the ninth QB to start for the Gators since Tim Tebow graduated and hopes to reverse a trend of inconsistent play at the all-important position.

FACTS & FIGURES

All eyes will be on legendary coach Steve Spurrier before the game. Florida will honor its first Heisman Trophy winner and its first national championship coach by renaming the field Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Spurrier also will serve as “Mr. Two Bits” and lead fans in a pre-game cheer. … Florida has the third-fewest seniors in the country, with 15, ahead of only Minnesota and Ole Dominion (13 apiece). … Gators have topped 60 points in each of their last two season openers.

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AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org

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