College Football Pick
The last time these schools met, two seasons ago in the Citrus Bowl, it resulted in a dominant showing by Michigan. With a lot of changes between then and now, things are expected to be a bit closer. Still, the Wolverines are expected to win again as -5 point favorites (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) for the Game at AT&T Stadium.
The interesting thing about these teams that are both projected to have solid seasons is that neither of them has a firm starting quarterback. This Game should be dominated by both defenses and that’s not a huge surprise as Michigan was No. 2 and Florida was No. 6 in points allowed last season.
The Wolverines have returning quarterback Wilton Speight to turn to, but he wasn’t named the starter a week before this Game with John O’Korn and freshman Brandon Peters also in the mix. That said, Speight will likely be the starter for the first week at a minimum. But even if he is improved, Michigan has a lot of different players around him, namely a receiving Game that should future multiple underclassmen. For that reason alone, Michigan will likely take a run-first approach this year with a stable of running backs from Chris Evans to Karan Higdon and a couple others. But with only two returning starters on the line, that won’t be a given for this team, either.
Fortunately for Michigan, the Gators only return three starters on the defensive side and they’ll have some work to do, as well. There’s still playmakers all over the place with CeCe Jefferson on the line and Duke Dawson in the secondary, but it’s going to be tough for this group to match what last year’s squad did.
For the Gators, most of their returning players come on the offensive side, although leading running back Jordan SCarlett (889 yards, 6 TDs) was suspended earlier in the week. The Gators will likely use a committee for this Game with Mark Thompson and LAmical Perine the likely candidates, but SCarlett is the starter for a reason. At the least, the line returns Four starters, as well as tight end DeAndre Goolsby (38 receptions). Top receiver Antonio Callaway (721 yards) is also suspended for the opener meaning someone new will have to step in immediately like Dre Massey or Tyrie Cleveland. But for the Gators to have a good passing Game, they’ll need to figure out their quarterback. For this Game, it was been reported that Jim McElwain may end up using three different guys under center with freshman Feleipe Franks, Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire and last year’s part-time starter LUke Del Rio. Franks was named starter, but that may not mean he makes it the entire way.
While the Wolverines lack returning talent on the defensive side, Jim Harbaugh still has a loaded squad due to recruitment. Rashan Gary and Maurice Hurst will be studs on the line, but elsewhere there are questions. The secondary is completely new with all of the expected starters underclassmen. Then again, that may not matter much in this Game with Florida’s quarterback situation. If the Gators can’t take advantage of Michigan’s secondary, it will have trouble winning this Game.
With both teams built the same way and having questions at quarterback, it may be best to roll with the Gators in hope that this is a three-point Game for either side. Then again, with so many players suspended for this Game, it’ll be hard to trust Florida.
Our Pick – With the lack of experience at QB for the Gators, expect them to play it safe against what should be another formiddable Wolverine defense. Michigan -5 and UNDER 43