Michigan opens as a 33-point favorite against Cincinnati

Rachel Hardy
September 4, 2017

Considering I usually spend my Saturday's on the sideline shooting Carson-Newman University football, the fact that they played their opener on Thursday offers a chance at a couple of college football live blogs. No doubt, the Wolverines will need better play from their signal-callers down the road. I tend to think that scoring opportunities will be at a premium in this game. Few teams should exit the first weekend more satisfied than the Golden Bears. Without the two errant throws, MI emerges from Jerry World with a mediocre quarterback performance, a dominant running game, and a stifling defense.

Coach Jim McElwain said he wants to forget it.

"Their guys were bigger and stronger", he added. "And I made sure it went in a positive direction".

If the game on the field is as entertaining as the mind games the two coaches are playing, fans watching Florida and MI are in for a treat. Senior Garrett Stephens' blocked punt in the second quarter was the Gators' first in almost four years; Loucheiz Purifoy blocked one against Miami on September 8, 2013. Speight air-mailed his next throw over Grant Perry and into the arms of cornerback CJ Henderson, who raced 41 yards for the go-ahead score.

The Wolverines, with Speight starting the second half, had a well-designed 10-play drive to open the second half to regain the lead. Kelly averaged 6.43 yards per carry in a reserve role (98 carries, 630 yards) last season.

Not one of the 11 defenders that started Michigan's first game in 2016 were on the field for Saturday's first snap at AT&T Stadium. (Kentucky), Ralph Webb (Vanderbilt) and Derrius Guice (LSU) in the first four weeks of SEC play. Some of that just didn't have time to be executed with MI controlling the game's time of possession 34 minutes to 26 minutes, but McElwain said there also needs to be more of an effort to get those guys involved in his revised plan.

Florida was down a touchdown in the second quarter, then the Gators weren't.

While the Crimson Tide came up just shy of its fifth national title under Saban, losing 35-31 to Clemson in a classic championship game that came down to a last-second touchdown pass, the Seminoles are looking to re-establish a bit of their swagger.

The lack of playmakers showed on offense for the Gators, as their quarterbacks were unable to sustain drives throughout the game. The Gators led that one, 14-0. Zaire and Franks combined to be 12-22 passing for 133 yards. When he found Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire, the Wolverines forced almost all of his 17 second-half pass attempts to come under pressure.

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As for a prediction, I am going to side with the Wolverines.

MI was the higher-ranked team and the betting favorite, so it was not surprising that they beat Florida.

"That had no impact on the outcome of this game", McElwain said. "Why can't we step out on the field in Cowboys Stadium and play a simple game of football?" "And yet, it's not time to hit the panic button". And is that young talent enough to overtake a loaded Ohio State team and defending Big Ten champion Penn State in the East? "We'll come back and do the right thing and be OK".

"The quarterback situation, we have a plan that's in place", he said. It is also worrisome that a position group he spent months bragging on - the offensive line - was manhandled by MI from start to finish. "It wasn't fun past year, and it wasn't fun this August". Sharpe was talented, but he didn't block SEC defensive lines all by himself. These two last met in the 2016 Citrus Bowl, with MI getting a 41-7 win.

It is completely reasonable to criticize McElwain for Saturday's performance and adjust season expectations.

It's way too early to write Florida off. Franks finished 5 of 9 for 75 yards and was sacked once.

"They were a big part [of the gameplan, ]" McElwain said.

Replacing 18 of 22 starters, staring down the barrel of their own mistakes almost giving the game away, having the world wonder if you're for real or if there will be a painful break-in period, MI more than sent notice to the rest of the conference and even the nation. His start was shaky, but there is still reason to have confidence in him. Malik Clements leads the Cincinnati Bearcats with 18 tackles, Tyrell Gilbert has one sack and Bryan Wright has one interception. It was Davis' only carry. Among the 10 are UF's leading pass receiver (Antonio Callaway) and leading rusher (Jordan Scarlett). Blue numbers were outlined in yellow and a Block M was affixed on the front of the jersey, below the right shoulder.

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