In one of the most anticipated games of the day, the Florida Gators and Michigan Wolverines will open the season at AT&T Stadium in Dallas on Saturday. Note that Dallas hasn’t been impacted by the flooding, so there haven’t been any travel nightmares getting here or any need to postpone the game. If you want to talk about nightmares, though, let’s talk about suspensions for a second. Florida comes into this one with Michigan with a slew of suspensions. Without a doubt, Urban Meyer isn’t running the show anymore. There’s a total of ten suspensions handed down. Some of these suspensions are not to be taken lightly.
Out for Florida is starting running back Jordan Scarlett, along with top wideout Antonio Callaway. The Gators need all the weapons they can get on offense, as they’ve struggled to find consistency since perhaps Tim Tebow was starting at quarterback. That’s a little while ago, and Florida fans are growing tired of no pop or excitement in Gainesville. There is lots of pop on defense, though. The only thing keeping them relevant is their strong defensive unit. It’s been enough to get them to SEC Championships, where Alabama had the privilege of blowing them out of the building.
Florida hasn’t had a good history against the Wolverines. Even when Tebow was on campus, the Gators came up short in the 2008 Capitol One Bowl. Michigan are 3-0, dating back to a 38-30 win in the Outback Bowl, and then a 41-7 win in the Citrus Bowl January 1st of 2016. In other words, Florida has been getting handled easily by Michigan.
The Gators are down offensive weapons in this one, but is it being overstated? At the end of the day, they win and lose through their defense. Also, Florida gets a youthful Michigan team who is replacing talent. I must say, though, the youth movement at Michigan is talented, as Jim Harbaugh begins to usher in the meat of his recruiting class. It’s going to be an interesting game, with multiple opinions from pundits on both sides of the coin in this one. Head below as we break it down, and looking for a winning pick.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Florida Gators Betting Odds:
vs. Florida +5(-115)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Michigan vs. Florida Pick:
Michigan will have a guy at quarterback with some experience. They may have youth elsewhere, but Wilton Speight comes in with a full season of starting experience. The senior did a fine job at being a competent game manager at Michigan in 2016. Yes, a game manager. Like Florida, Michigan likes to play defense and run the ball effectively.
He still connected for 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions for a year that saw them flirt with the college football playoff. If the ref rules Ohio State was stopped short in November, the Wolverines would have been there. One of the notable losses on defense is Jabrill Peppers. The multifaceted Peppers who could play all over the field is now in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns.
People want to say that Peppers is overrated, but say what you want, Peppers was a top defender in college football last season. There weren’t too many as versatile as him. Michigan will find a new superstar on defense, but it may take some time to identify the next big playmaker in their secondary. Michigan will still have a top-flight defense. They finished 2nd in yards allowed per game, the only team better was Alabama. Florida wasn’t too far back, allowing 299 yards per game for 6th in the country.
Florida is going to start a redshirt freshman against what should be a good Michigan defense. Florida also has nine new starters on defense. Yes, they’ll ultimately be a quality unit, but I give the edge to the experienced Speight at quarterback, vs a redshirt freshman going against a Harbaugh defense. This is going to be a close, low-scoring contest before Michigan pulls away late. The absence of Scarlett and Callaway is going to show. I look for a 8-10 point win for Michigan in this one.
PICK: MICHIGAN -5 (-105)