ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSMiami/AP) — College football is opening a strong first week with a premiere matchup between the Big Ten and SEC.
No. 11 Michigan (10-3) vs. No. 17 Florida (9-4) at Arlington, Texas, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Line: Michigan by 4½.
Series Record: Michigan leads 3-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The nation’s longest winning streak in season openers. Florida has won 27 consecutive openers, dating to a 24-19 home loss to Mississippi in 1989. Ohio State (16) and Alabama (15) rank second and third on the list. The Gators haven’t opened a season away from Gainesville since 1987 — a 31-4 loss at Miami — and haven’t played a non-conference, regular-season game outside the Sunshine State since losing 38-21 at Syracuse in 1991.
Michigan’s defensive front vs. Florida’s offensive line. The Wolverines dominated the matchup nearly two years ago, prompting Gators coach Jim McElwain to say this week that he “threw up all over” the tape. McElwain believes his line, which has three holdovers from that 41-7 drubbing in the 2016 Citrus Bowl, is the strength of the team. The Wolverines are replacing NFL talent, but talented sophomore Rashan Gary and fifth-year senior Maurice Hurst form a good base for a rebuild.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Michigan: QBs Wilton Speight or John O’Korn. One will start. Speight seems to have the edge, mostly because he started 12 games last season. But in his last five starts, which included three losses, he threw five touchdown passes and five interceptions.
Florida: QB Feleipe Franks. The redshirt freshman won the start over incumbent Luke Del Rio and Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire. The 6-foot-5 Franks is promising, but his first start comes in a big spot and suspensions will take away some of the Gators best weapons.
FACTS & FIGURES
Florida will be without 10 suspended players, including standout WR Antonio Callaway and starting RB Jordan Scarlett. Callaway, Scarlett and seven others are suspended indefinitely for misusing school funds. Freshman WR James Robinson also is suspended following marijuana possession charge. … Each school is getting $6 million to play neutral-site game at home of NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. … First regular-season meeting between two programs. … Michigan won bowl games against Florida in 2003, 2008 and 2016.
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