Florida vs. Michigan: Prediction, pick, live stream, watch online, TV channel, game preview

By Adam Silverstein
September 2, 2017
Florida vs. Michigan: Prediction, pick, live stream, watch online, TV channel, game preview
Football

Image Credit: Michael Nash

With 10 players suspended and expectations loaded on, No. 17 Florida Gators football looks for some long-needed revenge against the No. 11 Michigan Wolverines as the programs kick off the 2017 season in the AdvoCare Classic. Florida is an underdog in Saturday’s contest as it enters short-handed with an inexperienced quarterback, but the Gators certainly have every chance to win the game.

Here’s what you need to know and how you can watch Florida-Michigan.


Viewing information

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET | Event: AdvoCare Classic
Location: AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas [Capacity: 100,000]

TV: ABC (Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
Live stream: Watch ESPN | ESPN apps
SiriusXM: 80, 81, 196 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Tale of the tape

No. 17 Florida Gators No. 11 Michigan Wolverines
Head Coach Jim McElwain Jim Harbaugh
Record 0-0 0-0
Conference Southeastern Big Ten

Three things to know

1. Starting from behind: Don’t get it twisted. Florida deserves to be the underdog in this game. Though the teams are equally matched almost across the board, the Gators being down their top two offensive playmakers does matter. If it was simply junior wide receiver Antonio Callaway suspended, UF could have accounted for that, but not having junior running back Jordan Scarlett presents major issues. Couple that with a completely retooled defense that will be playing a lot of first- and second-year players, and Florida is in for a tough game.

2. Enjoy the moment, kid: Gators fans got what they wanted. Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks will be starting at quarterback Saturday, inherent risks and all. What risks, exactly? Well, you have a guy in Franks who has never thrown a collegiate pass getting his first action under the lights and pressure of AT&T Stadium. He’ll be on the field without his primary wideout and a rusher who should have taken a lot of pressure off him to move the ball. He also knows there are two quarterbacks champing at the bit behind him hoping he screws up so they can get on the field.

Whether McElwain has a short leash on Franks remains to be seen. He has claimed that all three quarterbacks will play in the game, though it’s more likely that graduate transfer Malik Zaire sees action as a change-of-pace player than redshirt junior Luke Del Rio — unless Franks struggles. One thing is for sure: It would be better for Florida to punt a couple drives early than for Franks to turn the ball over and put his team even further behind the 8-ball.

3. Not the Wolverines of old: Harbaugh has seen plenty of success since joining Michigan, but the team taking the field Saturday is not the same one that pushed Ohio State to the brink in 2016 or dominated Florida at the 2016 Citrus Bowl. UM, just like UF, lost a ton of starters this offseason and has a young defense that may well be mistake-prone. Harbaugh has proven to be a coach that can take advantage of such opportunities — and he will have them Saturday — but can McElwain’s offense respond in kind? That may well be what decides the game.

Pick and analysis

Spread: Florida +5 | O/U: 43

This is as tough of a game to predict as I can remember. On paper, Florida and Michigan are so evenly matched its astounding. Even in the coaching department, you have McElwain and Harbaugh, both of whom have seen a lot of success but been unable to beat their toughest competition since taking their current jobs. Where the Gators do have an edge on Saturday is special teams with more dynamic returners and the best kicking duo in the game this season. But is that enough to make up for the suspensions, an inexperienced quarterback and a secondary that could struggle to gel in its first action together?

Of the four possible ways this game could go — blowout in either direction, close game in either direction — the one thing I am sure of is that the Gators will not roll the Wolverines. It could happen with Michigan blasting a short-handed Florida, but UF will not embarrass UM on this stage. So the question is whether that happens at all or this winds up being a tight game.

That it will. I’ve flipped back and forth on whether Florida beats Michigan but that does not matter. The Gators are getting five points, which I believe is 1.5 too many. The Wolverines are too inexperienced to be such heavy favorites, and both defenses are going to give up points on Saturday afternoon. That leads me to taking the points and the over.

2017 records: ATS picks 0-0 | O/U picks 0-0

Injuries and absences

Suspended (10): WR Antonio Callaway, RB Jordan Scarlett, DL Keivonnis Davis, DL Richerd Desir-Jones, DL Jordan Smith, WR Rick Wells, LB James Houston IV, LB Ventrell Miller, OL Kadeem Telfort, WR James Robinson

Probable (1): LB Kylan Johnson (hamstring)
Questionable (2): DB Quincy Lenton (hamstring), TE Kemore Gamble (foot)
Out (2): C.J. McWilliams (hamstring), DB Marcell Harris (Achilles – season)

Game notes

» This is the first regular-season meeting between Florida and Michigan. The Gators are 0-3 all-time against the Wolverines with three bowl game losses in the last 15 years.
» Florida has won 27 straight season openers, the longest streak in the nation. This is both UF’s first opener away from home and its first opener against a ranked opponent since 1987.
» The Gators are 83-27 all-time in season openers, 68-7 at home and 15-20 away from home.
» UF is 42-5 in the month of September since 2005.
» The winner of the AdvoCare Classic has advanced to the College Football Playoff in three straight seasons.

» Florida is 213-11 since 1990 when an opponent scores 21 points or fewer in a contest, including 18-0 under McElwain.
» Also under McElwain, the Gators are 16-1 against unranked opponents and 3-6 against ranked opponents. UF is 14-0 when outrushing an opponent, 16-3 when scoring first, 15-1 when leading at half and 10-1 when winning the turnover battle.
» Florida owns the nation’s longest streak of returning either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, doing so in 12 consecutive seasons.
» The Gators have the second-most wins in the nation since 1990 (258).
» Florida has scored in 361 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation and second-longest all-time (Michigan). UF can break that record if it does not get shutout through the LSU game.
» McElwain is the first coach in SEC history to play for the conference title in his first two seasons at the helm of his program.

Uniforms

Florida is all-blue Nike color rush uniforms with the new-style white helmet. Michigan will be in all-maize for the first time ever with its standard helmet.

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