football-fbs flag

Mark Long | The Associated Press | September 1, 2017

Unknowns offer intrigue for No. 11 Michigan vs. No. 17 Florida

  Michigan leads the all-time head-to-head series 3-0.

When Michigan released its roster earlier this week and Florida announced its starting quarterback hours later, two of the big mysteries heading into the teams' season opener were revealed.

Many more remain.

The No. 11 Wolverines and the 17th-ranked Gators should get some answers Saturday in Arlington, Texas. The palatial, 100,000-seat home of the Dallas Cowboys will provide the stage for two programs with high expectations and plenty of unknowns.

"It's another game," Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno said. "We play at a big venue every weekend. Nothing different; just prepare. We're Michigan, man. We play in big games. That's who we are, and that's why we're here."

The Wolverines will start either Wilton Speight or John O'Korn at quarterback. 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.

RELATED: Michigan, Florida to wear special all-maize, all-blue uniforms Saturday

A bigger issue for the Wolverines could be replacing 18 of 22 starters, including a bunch of NFL talent on defense. Coach Jim Harbaugh's defense led the nation in yards in 2016, giving up 261.8 a game, and ranked second in points (14.1). Eight players were drafted off that unit, including All-American safety Jabrill Peppers and pass-rushers Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley.

How quickly and seamlessly Michigan reloads could be significant as the team tries for its first Big Ten title since 2004.

"You've kind of got to go on what is their history," Florida coach Jim McElwain said. "In the first game, you are always going to see some things you haven't seen. There's new wrinkles every year on both sides. ... The unknown piece of that, it really comes down to you more than it does the opponent in how you go about it."

The Gators will have redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks making his first start in what's sure to be a challenging environment. They also are replacing seven starters on a defense that ranked fifth in the nation and lost coordinator Geoff Collins.

"It's time for us to make a statement," Gators linebacker David Reese said. "Florida's always been the underdog. They picked us to lose, of course. They didn't think we were going to the SEC championship, but it's fine."

Some other things to know about Michigan and Florida:

OPENER STREAK: Florida has the nation's longest winning streak in season openers. The Gators have won 27 consecutive openers, dating back to a 24-19 home loss to Mississippi in 1989. 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.

WATCH: Counting down the top 5 QBs in 2017 | RBs | WRs | Defensive players 

CITRUS CRUSH: Michigan is 3-0 in the series, including a 41-7 thrashing of Florida in the 2016 Citrus Bowl. The Wolverines dominated both lines of scrimmage that New Year's Day, outgained the Gators 270-28 in the second half, and handed Florida its most lopsided loss in two decades and its second-worst defeat in bowl history. "I didn't even want to look at the scoreboard," Gators guard Fred Johnson said. "But, yeah, that's on everybody's mind just to prove ourselves, like, 'We can do this.'"

TEXAS TEARDROP: Florida will wear a special helmet decal during the game to help bring awareness to the thousands of families impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The helmet decal features a teardrop with the Texas state flag inside it.

This article was written by Mark Long from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to


2022 SEC Championship Game: Date, time, history

Here's the quick guide to the 2022 SEC Championship Game, which features LSU and Georgia at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, on CBS.

Here are the top college volleyball matchups to watch in the penultimate week of the regular season

Only two weeks remain in the women's volleyball regular season. Here are three matchups you will need to keep your eye on this week, highlighted by a big rematch between Pittsburgh and Louisville.

8 takeaways from DI cross country conference championship weekend

Conference championships saw records set, exciting finishes and dominating performances from household names. Here are some takeaways.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners