(Saturday, September 3rd)
Final Score: (22) Florida 41, Florida Atlantic 3
Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - Will Muschamp's debut at Florida was a success, as the 22nd-ranked Gators easily handled Florida Atlantic, 41-3.
Muschamp filled the void created by Urban Meyer's departure and picked up where the two-time title-winning coach left off.
Chris Rainey totaled 146 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns, Jeff Demps ran for 105 yards and two scores, and John Brantley threw for 229 yards and a TD for Florida (1-0), which finished 8-5 last year in Meyer's swan song.
"It's exciting," Muschamp admitted. "The preparation I enjoy as much as anything. The game day coming out the tunnel and the excitement of running out onto the field, that's part of it, but for me it's about the players. I enjoy seeing everyone get ready, it coming down to game-time and finally getting out there to play."
The Owls (0-1) gained only 137 yards in the final season opener for Howard Schnellenberger, the architect of the FAU program. Following a disappointing 4-8 mark last year, Schnellenberger announced his 27th season at the helm will be his last.
Graham Wilbert tossed for only 107 yards on 14-of-26 efficiency in defeat.
"Physically they are just a great team and an SEC opponent," Wilbert said. "New coaches or not, they still have a stacked roster and they are going to win a lot of games this year."
Florida's Caleb Sturgis capped a season-opening 13-play, 37-yard drive with a 51-yard field goal.
Brantley went through the air 10 times on the Gators' next possession and completed six of his attempts, including a 14-yard TD to Rainey.
Demps' 35-yard romp to paydirt on the first play of the second quarter made it 17-0, and Rainey ran one in from 14 yards out a little later.
"You're going to see a lot of rushing yards this year, that's all I can really say. We want to run the ball," Rainey said.
FAU went three-and-out on its first four possessions before moving the chains on its fifth touch. Vinny Zaccario got the Owls on the board with a 27-yard field goal, but missed a 34-yard try just before the break.
Solomon Patton blocked a punt early in the third, and Rainey was in the right place to return it 22 yards for a 31-3 cushion.
Demps tacked on a 20-yard TD rush in the fourth, and Florida, still throwing in a blowout, got a 29-yard field goal from Sturgis in the final two minutes.
Rainey had 79 yards and 11 carries and a team-high 67 yards on six catches. He was the third FBS player in 1996 to score on a run, reception and blocked punt...Brantley completed 21-of-30 attempts and threw two interceptions...The Owls play their first five games on the road before hosting Western Kentucky on October 15.
09/04 02:38:55 ET