Editor’s note: Counting down to Michigan football’s season opener, Land of 10 is taking a look at the Wolverines’ 2017 opponents.
Michigan vs. Florida
- When: Saturday, Sept. 2
- Kickoff time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
- TV: ABC
- Last meeting: Michigan defeated Florida 41-7 in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2016. Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock went 20-of-31 passing for 278 yards and 3 touchdowns, and joined John Navarre as the second Michigan quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season.
Florida at a glance
- Coach: Jim McElwain
- 2016 record: 9-4
Florida players to watch
Chauncey Gardner | CB
Gardner is one of Florida’s most versatile defensive players, but McElwain projects him as a cornerback this fall.
Gardner played in 13 games last season, finishing with 32 tackles, 3 interceptions and 3 pass breakups. In three starts at safety, Gardner made 17 tackles and had all 3 of his picks. Gardner, however, will be asked to fill in for Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson, who were both selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Malik Zaire | QB
Zaire joined the Gators as a graduate transfer from Notre Dame this summer. Zaire will contend for the Gators’ starting quarterback job against redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks and Luke Del Rio, who started six games at Florida last season.
Zaire only made three starts in three seasons at Notre Dame; he broke his right ankle and missed all but two games in 2015, and DeShone Kizer was Notre Dame’s primary starter in 2016. Zaire was 58-for-98 passing for 816 yards and 6 touchdowns in 17 games with the Irish.
This game will be the first litmus test for the Wolverines, and it comes against an SEC opponent. Michigan had opened its season against Group of 5 teams in three of the last four seasons. A season opener against a Power 5 team will become the yardstick for Michigan’s younger players and its newcomers, which will show where and what Michigan gained in the preseason and where it needs to improve, in preparation for the next 11 games.
Florida 21, Michigan 17