Florida’s season opener with Michigan matches two of college football’s giants, but the two aren’t exactly mirror images of each other.
That’s particularly true on offense, where each team has reason for confidence in one half of its passing game but not necessarily the other.
“The 2017 NCAA football season kicks off with a series of intriguing games. Among the games getting the most action is contest between the Michigan Wolverines and the Florida Gators at AT&T Stadium. The Wolverines head to this game holding an important advantage in the betting wagers as they are now listed as a 4.5-point favorite over Florida,” says Dave Strauss, line manager at MyBookie.ag.
Here’s a closer look at the key positions where each team will work to exploit its advantage in the season opener.
Position: Wide receiver
Why the Gators have the edge: Clear edge to the Gators – with an asterisk. That asterisk goes next to the status of star wide receiver Antonio Callaway, whose legal complications stemming from a marijuana possession charge continue to progress through the court system. There’s the chance that Callaway, who’s had several off-field issues in his time in Gainesville, could be suspended. If he’s available, though, Florida will have the most dangerous offensive weapon on the field.
As an added bonus, starter Brandon Powell is also back for the Gators, along with big-play threat Tyrie Cleveland and Josh Hammond. Expect Florida’s receivers to cause Michigan serious problems downfield – if the quarterback can get them the ball.
For Michigan, meanwhile, receiver is a mess. The top two wide receivers from 2016, Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh, were fifth-year seniors. Wide receiver Grant Perry does return, but Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh said he won’t play in games until the resolution of a 2016 legal case in which he faces charges including sexual assault, underage alcohol possession and resisting an officer.
Of Michigan’s returning receivers, sophomore Eddie McDoom (an Orlando native) had the most catches last year with five. That opens up the possibility that someone in the Wolverines’ highly regarded freshman class, like five-star prospect Donovan Peoples-Jones, could see extended playing time against the Gators. It’s an untested group, working against a perennially strong Florida secondary that’s no easy matchup even for the best receivers.
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