Speight was benched for two series in the first half after serving up back-to-back pick sixes that gave Florida a 17-10 lead, but he came back after halftime and didn't make the same near-fatal mistake again. The win today by MI gave the Gators their first opening day loss since 1989. MI had 433 yards to Florida's 192. But when the defense and special teams are as predictably and unflinchingly dominant as they were, 24 points by Alabama feels like 50 by anyone else.
Jim Harbaugh has guided the Wolverines to two straight 10-win seasons, while Jim McElwain has led the Gators to back-to-back SEC East Division titles, so this showdown at the home of the Dallas Cowboys should serve as a good litmus test for two programs that harbor hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff. After connecting with wideout Josh Hammond for a 34-yard gain on his first pass of the game, Franks couldn't do much else.
Franks earned his first career start ahead of last season starter Luke Del Rio and Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire. "They whooped us. I mean, plain and simple". Zaire didn't look much better, however. MI regrouped on Quinn Nordan's 55-yard-field goal before halftime.
After the two plays, MI replaced Speight with John O'Korn, a former Houston transfer who joined the program after Jim Harbaugh took the job.
"Just to hear that latter and say, OK, there's 18-, 19-year-old guys going over there defending our freedom", Speight said.
"So there was sort of a lot of resilience in our team today, and very proud of that". Both Florida and MI have recruited well on the defensive side of the ball, so they should be able to handle the losses to key starting positions.
Ninth-ranked MI opens the season Saturday against No. 16 Florida in the AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Four Michigan rushers were able to compile 215 yards on the ground against a team that has an extremely stout defense year in and year out.
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"First and foremost, they physically took it to us, give them their due", said McElwain.
"You know, their strength overtook us". You usually don't play great when you're playing off your back foot. Disappointed in the lack of being able to run the football...it was bad disappointing, I'll tell you that. In college, that means more than three yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
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"Hats off to MI", said UF defensive end Jordan Sherit. All four played throughout the game. "And I'm taking it". We've got to have that.
Florida's Duke Dawson went 48 yards after catching a deflected ball that intended receiver Kekoa Crawford could barely get his fingers on. Otherwise I wouldn't say it was an issue. "There's a number of plays in my head that I could have done better". I've never been that type.
The Florida Gators are coming from a 9-4 record and they nearly got to where they wanted, but they lost to Alabama in the SEC title game. Suspensions cost them 10 players for Saturday's game, including top playmakers Antonio Callaway and Jordan Scarlett.
However, McElwain refused to use their absence as any kind of excuse for Michigan's dominance. "The guys that weren't here, that was a choice".