The opening week of the 2017 college football season is perhaps the greatest Week 1 ever with a bunch of stellar matchups. One of those sure to feature two ranked teams is Florida taking on Michigan on Sept. 2 in Texas. The Wolverines head into College Football Week 1 as the betting favorites against the Gators. Let’s find out what you can expect from this season opener.
Florida vs Michigan College Football Week 1 Betting Odds & PickWatchESPN Radio: ESPN 98.1 FM (Florida) / 104.3FM (Michigan) Opening College Football Week 1 Odds: Michigan -4
Last MeetingNot too much can be taken from the last time these teams played as pretty much all of the key players you will see on Sept. 2 weren’t involved much or at all in the game. It was Jan. 1, 2016, at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando. No. 14 Michigan crushed No. 19 Florida, 41-7. Jake Rudock, now in the NFL, threw for 278 yards and three scores. Michigan had three touchdown drives of at least 70 yards and finished with 503 yards of offense against a Florida defense that entered the game ranked sixth nationally.
Loser In TroubleNo team has made the College Football Playoff with two losses yet, and I doubt that happens in 2017. Thus I think you can all but rule out the loser of this game for the playoff as it seems very likely each will lose at once more. The Gators actually have a pretty friendly schedule in the SEC this year in that they avoid Alabama and Auburn from the West Division. But they host LSU and Texas A&M and play Georgia in Jacksonville as usual. UF also hosts Florida State to close the regular season and the Seminoles are loaded. Should Michigan win this game, it probably will be unbeaten into mid-October with just one game away from home in that stretch: Sept. 23 at sorry Purdue. However, the Wolverines have to visit an excellent Penn State team on Oct. 21, a good Wisconsin team on Nov. 18 and host a stacked Ohio State team on Nov. 25.
Michigan Is InexperiencedWhile Michigan brings back one of the better QBs in the Big Ten in Wilton Speight, the Wolverines also return the fewest starters in the nation overall. Michigan returns just one starter on defense (linebacker Mike McCray). However, there is plenty of young talent waiting in the wings, including end Rashan Gary and linebacker Devin Bush. Gary’s 27 tackles (five for loss) and a sack last season were above-average numbers for a freshman. His seven quarterback hurries — tied for third on the team — stood out in 2016. His approach was to watch and learn from starters Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton while waiting for his turn.
What About Maurice Hurst?Tackle Maurice Hurst (no starts in 2016) could push for All-America honors in 2017. However, Corey Malone-Hatcher, a four-star freshman defensive end, has announced that he is retiring from football. Malone-Hatcher says he will remain at Michigan on scholarship but will not play football. He started at Michigan in January as an early-enrollee. On offense, the receiving corps must be revamped, and the line remains a question mark headed into fall workouts.
Who Is Florida’s QB?Meanwhile, UF is expected to start Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire at quarterback in 2017. In the seven football seasons since Tim Tebow’s departure, Florida has been in quarterback purgatory. No Gator quarterback has thrown more than 12 touchdown passes in a season in the post-Tebow era. Zaire sat behind Everett Golson for most of his freshman season in 2014 before earning his first career start against LSU in the Music City Bowl, a 31-28 win.
How Weel has Malik Zaire Done in His Career?He beat out DeShone Kizer in 2015, shredding Texas’ defense to shreds in a dominating 38-3 season-opening victory before suffering a season-ending ankle injury the following week against Virginia. He didn’t start again for the Fighting Irish, throwing only 23 passes last year backing up Kizer. Zaire is battling incumbent Luke Del Rio and redshirt freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask. Zaire should win that battle.
College Football Series History
- Games Played: 3
- Current Streak: Michigan with 3 wins (2003-2016)
- Largest Margin of Victory: Michigan 41-7 2016)
- Longest Winning Streak: Michigan with 3 wins (2003-2016)
- January 1st, 2016. Orlando, FL. Florida 7 Michigan 41
- January 1st, 2008. Orlando, Fl. Florida 35 Michigan 41
- January 1st, 2003. Tampa Bay, Fl. Florida 30 Michigan 38
Latest College Football Betting Trends
- Odds to Win the 2018 Championship: +4000
- Odds to Win SEC Conference: +800
- 2017-18 Regular Season Wins: O 8½ -125 / U 8½ -105
- Odds to Win the 2018 Championship: +1200
- Odds to Win Big Ten Conference: +180
- 2017-18 Regular Season Wins: O 9 -175 / U 9 +145
Key College Football Week 1 Trends
- Gators are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 neutral site games.
- Wolverines are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall.