Preview & betting advice - MI (#11) vs. Florida (#17)

Posted September 04, 2017

Miles gritted his teeth when saying that, much like his mentor, Bo Schembechler, did when speaking about something he was passionate about.

The Michigan Wolverines will begin an all-important third season with Jim Harbaugh as their head coach when they travel to Arlington, Texas to do battle with the Florida Gators Saturday.

The senior signal-caller was off to a rough start, with two interceptions returned for touchdowns on consecutive drives. This has been a familiar theme the past two seasons when UF's defense was ranked in the top 10 nationally and the offense was ranked higher than 100. McElwain, who spent much of the offseason suggesting the unit was ready to turn a corner, said his staff must make sure "we're doing what we're supposed to be doing in the weight room". The program was shut down after that season, but the school was pressured to restore the sport (both by the public and Conference USA, which was on the verge of booting UAB since it no longer fielded a football team). Florida on offense has not been impressive. You tell your young men that every down they play could be their last, every down they play, they will never get that play back.

Malik Zaire was expected to step in and win the starting job after transferring from Notre Dame but has failed to master the playbook, thus opening the door for last season's starter Luke Del Rio and talented freshman Feleipe Franks to get some snaps. Maize hats flew to the ball and consistently sent extra defenders into the backfield to pressure the quarterback.

"I think things could get really, really ugly for McElwain", he writes.

There was a buzz outside AT&T Stadium on the eve of one of the most anticipated opening games in college football. Wilton Speight will be back at quarterback and look to stabilize an offense filled with inexperienced skill players. The Wolverines probably won't see a ranked team again until an October 21 visit to Penn State, and that leaves plenty of time to tidy things up.

Defensively, the Wolverines dominated.

"They physically took it to us", Florida coach Jim McElwain said. "The quarterbacks didn't play great but it's tough to play great when you're playing off your foot".

Franks was at times like Bambi on ice with Thumper. On one of those, he fumbled without contact but was fortunate to recover. Yet, he responded with some nice throws in the second half. Scrambling and close to picking up a first down with the Gators trailing by six, Franks was tackled and let the ball slip out of his right hand. Two of the missed throws would have resulted in walk in TDs for the Wolverines if completed.

Other than that, the redshirt freshman was adequate in his first start.

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Neal passed for 204 yards and a touchdown. No doubt, the Wolverines will need better play from their signal-callers down the road.

Once Zaire came on and it was obvious that Florida had to (but could not) run the football (27 yards on 11 attempts), the Wolverines turned into wolverines on the pass rush. Black finished the day with just two catches for 83 yards but one was a 46 yard TD strike.

MI left a lot of points on the board today but still ended up cruising to a win.

"This isn't the only game", defensive end Josh Sweat said, "but it definitely is a very big game, and everybody knows it is".

Florida had already returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the game when it blocked a punt and began its next drive at the MI 37. The second pick-six was fierce.

Jordan Scarlett, Florida's leading rusher and one of the 10 players suspended for this game, made remarks recently that the Wolverines' defensive front didn't "move well".

Nordin made four field goals, including a 55-yarder in the first half. Enough said. Even the special teams added a bonus Quinn Nordin, who drilled four field goals, including a pair from 50-plus yards. MI ran a play-action fake to running back Karan Higdon, and its offensive line provided adequate time for quarterback Wilton Speight to take a deep drop, survey the field and find receiver Tarik Black streaking behind the defense for a 46-yard touchdown.

It seemed like every time the MI offense needed a lift, Isaac was there to provide it.

Florida figures to once again be stingy on defense.

If the Gators can concoct an above-average offense and above-average quarterback play, their fans will likely be ecstatic.