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Michigan Wolverines vs. Florida Gators Point Spread - Pick

Michigan Wolverines (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Florida Gators (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday, September 2, 2017 at 3:30PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TV: ABC

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: MICH -3.5/FLA +3.5
Over/Under Total: 45

The Michigan Wolverines face the Florida Gators at AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas, as both teams start their 2017 seasons. Both teams are ranked in the top 20 to begin the season, with Michigan 11th and Florida 17th. Michigan looks to continue their ascent with Jim Harbaugh, coming off a pair of ten-win seasons. Meanwhile, the Gators look for their third straight SEC East title. Despite both teams being ranked, each team faces a lot of uncertainty with a lot of new faces.

This is where Jim Harbaugh really needs that recruiting prowess to manifest. The entire D-line and secondary were wiped out, along with the core of their pass-catching. The team is somewhat shrouded in mystery heading into the season opener. QB Wilton Speight looks to have again earned the starting nod, despite being pushed by John O'Korn at points in the offseason. The receiving corps is untested with Grant Perry, freshman Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Kekoa Martin. Someone should step up out of this group and deferring to Harbaugh's expertise and just the fact that the U of M always seems to find answers in the playmaking department should elicit some optimism.

For Michigan, however, they don't really have that show-stopping quarterback and with the aerial game in a state of transition, they will have to rely on the running game. There appear to be some answers in that area with Chris Evans, who averaged almost 7 yards a run in his freshman season. Karan Higdon also offers some upside in the ground game. But replacing dynamic tight end Jake Butt won't be easy and on top of that, the line has some voids to fill. Outside of versatile Mason Cole and left guard Ben Bredeson, there isn't a ton of experience. In other words, there are sources for hope on offense, but it should be tempered with some uncertainty until these potential problem departments are better-defined.

Big Blue defensive coordinator Don Brown also has his work cut out for him in this blitz-heavy defense that is missing a lot of faces that made big contributions last season and beyond that. The line looks to take a step back. They really need DE Rashan Gray to deliver and he is a robust talent, as they also need Chase Winovich, DT Maurice Hurst, and DT Michael Dwumfour to come through in his final season with the team. The secondary lost a lot of juice. Khaleke Hudson comes in to take over the VIPER position vacated by standout Jabrill Peppers. Guys like S Tyree Kinnel will be a key part of the equation, as are safeties Josh Glasgow and Josh Martellus, along with corners Lavert Hill, Kevin Long, and Keith Washington. Somewhere out of there, a standout unit needs to develop.

Florida has really taken to Jim McElwain's approach. His first two seasons resulted in a pair of division titles. There has been some offseason unpleasantness with a lot of off-the-field drama. As of this writing, ten Gators players are suspended. The list includes receiver Antonio Carraway and starting back Jordan Scarlett. Just a few days before the game, McElwain named Feleipe Franks starting quarterback.

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Franks should be at least a mild upgrade over who has been in there recently. Florida has been able to thrive without really having standout play in this area recently. Callaway will miss a game, which leaves them a little thin in the aerial game. Running back is strong, however, Jordan Scarlett is suspended, leaving Lamical Perine and Mark Thompson (questionable). Adding some hope is an offensive line that returns 63 starts to the front. So whoever the QB is will at least have a good line and some ground weapons to help him ease into the season a bit.

Defense has been a big part of the equation for the Gators for the past few seasons and will need to be so again if Florida looks to maintain pace. It was really alarming how the line melted late in the season, allowing 218 rushing yards a game over the last month of the season. They lost both tackles and an end and really need talent to develop ahead of schedule around end Jabari Zuniga. In the middle, there are also voids. At least Kylan Johnson (questionable) and David Reese were able to get some experience with starters injured in '16, but they need to show they're up-to-snuff. Three members of the secondary are in the NFL now and that obviously leaves a void. So, long story short, there are a lot of questions. Based on his track record, however, you have to assume coach McElwain will answer most of them in the affirmative.

Both teams are in a bit of a transitional state, on a neutral field in week one, making this a case of betting into the dark a bit. The range of possible success for both teams is pretty wide. Both offenses seem to have a few less questions than on the other side of the ball and that could result in at least a few more points being scored than what is being projected in the 45-point total. We're going to go "over" in this one.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting that the Michigan vs. Florida game goes over 45 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Wolverines vs. Gators game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!

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