The Michigan Wolverines will take on the Florida Gators in a marquee non-conference matchup played on neutral territory in Texas.
These two teams last faced off in the Citrus Bowl at the conclusion of the 2015 season. The game resulted in a lopsided victory by Michigan 41-7.
Michigan has played well in head coach Jim Harbaugh’s first two seasons (20-6). However, they are replacing a lot of starting and key players heading into the 2017 season. The upside is that Harbaugh will be initiating some top recruits Michigan attained over the past two years. Wilton Speight will be back at quarterback and look to stabilize an offense filled with inexperienced skill players. The defense suffered the loss of playmakers Jabrill Peppers and Taco Charlton to the NFL, but turn to top prospect Rashan Gary to have an impact on the defensive line.
Florida starts 2017 amid off the field controversy that has resulted in the suspension of 10 players for this week 1 contest. Most notably to be absent are wide receiver Antonio Calloway and running back Jordan Scarlett. Also, the Gators have named freshman Feleipe Franks to start at quarterback adding to offensive apprehension. Florida will look to rely on their top ranked defense to keep them in the game and create short field scoring opportunities.
Prediction and Betting Advice
I think the travel to Texas and suspended players will prove to be a major distraction for Florida. Harbaugh has proven throughout his coaching career that he can take any group of athletes and capitalize their strengths giving the best possibility for victory. So, Michigan will overcome their challenge of rebooting the starting lineup and stay more focused than the Gators. Michigan will cover as 4.5 point favorite.