College Football: Michigan 33, Florida 17 - D1SportsNet


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College football

Michigan 33, Florida 17

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A couple of pick-sixes that led to a change of quarterback had No. 11 Michigan searching for answers. The Wolverines didn't need long to find them.

Michigan overcame those early setbacks to thoroughly dominate No. 17 Florida in Saturday afternoon's 33-17 AdvoCare Classic victory at AT&T Stadium.

"I thought our team really responded after that," said Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, alluding to an early 17-10 deficit. "We scored 23 unanswered and that was really good. We showed a lot of resilience in our team today and I'm really proud of that."

Ty Isaac rushed for 114 yards for the Wolverines (1-0) and Quinn Nordin kicked four field goals, including two from 50 or more yards.

The Gators (0-1) had their winning streak in season openers snapped at 27, going back to 1989. It was the longest active streak in the country.

The game was one of the premier non-conference matchups from opening weekend, but mistakes and sloppy play plagued both ranked teams at times.

Wolverines quarterback Wilton Speight had two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the second quarter. The Gators lost two fumbles in their territory in the third, each leading to Michigan scores.

Florida managed only 192 yards of offense and didn't score an offensive touchdown against a Michigan defense that lost 10 starters from last season. The Gators' offensive woes were startling, even with standout receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett among the 10 players out due to suspensions.

"First and foremost, they physically took it to us, give them their due," Florida coach Jim McElwain said. "They beat us every which way they could up front, and we never had an answer."

The Wolverines finished with 433 yards and outscored Florida 20-0 in the second half.

"Our whole team has been very focused," Harbaugh said. "Exhausted every minute that we were allowed to have, through spring practice, through training camp, through meetings, walk-through practices, and it felt like we were prepared. We always have to go out and do it. It was a good start. We're not patting ourselves on the back. We're moving on with humble hearts and working towards Week 2."

Speight, a junior, emerged from a hard-fought battle with fifth-year senior John O'Korn to open the season as the starter. Speight completed 11 of 25 passes for 181 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

Michigan jumped ahead 10-3 late in the first quarter on Speight's 46-yard touchdown pass to receiver Tarik Black.

The Gators quickly went up 17-10 on a pair of interception returns. Both of Speight's turnovers came on throws that sailed high and made for easy picks.

Florida's Duke Dawson went 48 yards after catching a deflected ball that intended receiver Kekoa Crawford could barely get his fingers on. Speight air-mailed his next throw over Grant Perry and into the arms of cornerback CJ Henderson, who raced 41 yards for the go-ahead score.

Speight was benched on the following drive in favor of O'Korn.

Michigan cut its deficit to 17-13 before halftime thanks to Nordin's 55-yard field goal.

Speight returned to start the third quarter and the Wolverines responded by taking a 20-17 lead. Michigan took the second-half kickoff and went 75 yards in 10 plays, the last a 3-yard run from Karan Higdon.

"Wilton went back in, calm, played within the offense and played to his talent, which is a lot of talent," Harbaugh said. "He has a lot of skills. He throws extremely accurate; a couple of the high balls, that's out of character. He's really talented and I thought he did a good job reeling it back and getting under control and playing winning football."

Florida fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, setting up Nordin's 30-yard kick for a 23-17 advantage.

Another turnover by the Gators on the next drive -- quarterback Feleipe Franks dropped the ball while scrambling -- led to Nordin drilling a 50-yarder to make it 26-17.

Franks, making his first career start, was then replaced by Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire. It wasn't any better for Zaire, who fumbled in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. It was recovered by Michigan's Noah Furbush for the game's final touchdown.

"Quarterbacks, obviously, didn't play great," McElwain said. "You usually don't play great when you're playing off your back foot, so we've got to do some things that way to help."