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No. 11 Michigan defense clamps down on No. 17 Florida to kick off 2017 season


People joked last season about Florida’s best offense being the Gators’ defense. One week into the 2017 season and it appears not much has changed for Jim McElwain’s squad.

As a result, Michigan parlayed a suffocating defensive effort and took advantage of numerous UF mistakes on Saturday afternoon to capture a 33-17 win at AT&T Stadium in one of the bigger non-conference clashes of the year.

While the scoreline seemed to indicate a somewhat close affair, it would have been a blowout for Jim Harbaugh and company had Wolverines quarterback Wilton Speight not gifted Florida 14 points off back-to-back pick-sixes in the first half. The senior signal-caller didn’t exactly get much sharper as the game went on (181 yards, one touchdown), but helped at least loosen up the defense to create some running lanes for tailbacks Ty Isaac (114 yards) and Chris Evans (78 yards) on the ground.

Their effort played a role in the team taking over the game to start the second half and never look back. Michigan marched right down to the end zone coming out of the locker room and then proceeded to recover a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. That was eventually turned into three points a few plays later and the Wolverines repeated the act again by recovering a Feleipe Franks fumble and cashing in with another field goal.

All told, a roughly three-minute span produced just three Florida offensive plays but 13 Michigan points. Along the way, Quinn Nordin became the first kicker in Wolverines history to ever hit two 50+ field goals in a game.

Franks (5/9, 75 yards) did start the game on solid ground as a first time starter but never seemed to get comfortable behind center. Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire was eventually brought on to run the offense but the Gators never could turn things around and he was the recipient of many of the Wolverines’ five sacks.

The lackluster effort on that side of the ball was sure to evoke memories of the past few seasons in Gainesville but things likely would have been at least a little different had 10 players — including the starting tailback and the team’s only game-breaking receiver — not been suspended. McElwain and his coaching staff will have a week to regroup with FCS Northern Colorado coming to the Swamp for their next game but will need answers quickly if they’re to remain atop the SEC East by the end of the year for a third straight time.

Michigan won’t have the same number of questions after their biggest test of the non-conference slate and may not play a team as good as the Gators until a late October trip to Penn State highlights Big Ten play. There was plenty of concern about Harbaugh’s team having to replace so many starters in 2017 but the Wolverines will head back to Ann Arbor without fretting quite as much as first thought, especially on defense.

Certainly not after clamping down and doing their own Gator chomp in Texas to kick off the season.

Iowa struggling to sellout game vs. Penn State

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The Iowa Hawkeyes are about to host a top-four team at Kinnick Stadium this Saturday night, and it seems there is slightly more trouble trying to sell out the game than anticipated. According to Mark Emmert of the Des Moines Register and Iowa City Press-Citizen (and not the NCAA president by the same name), Iowa still had 4,000 tickets for this week’s game against No. 4 Penn State sitting in the box office as of earlier today.

Price concerns for the game coupled with a delay in knowing the kickoff time apparently had some influence on the unexpected ticket availability this close to the game.

Schools are becoming more and more commonly known for having higher-priced tickets for the more marquee games on their home schedule, and Iowa is no exception. Iowa has tiered ticket pricing for their home games, and Penn State being the defending conference champion with a decent traveling fanbase made this week’s matchup an ideal fit for being priced in the higher tier. Later this year, Iowa’s home game against Ohio State will also be priced at $95. $95, for some, is not worth the effort to go to a game and tailgate all day. It may be fine for a good number of fans, but it’s not for everybody.

Having to wait to know what time a game will kickoff can be a nuisance for those football fans who like to plan ahead. And while a primetime game may be great for exposure, it can be a cumbersome chore for some fans who would much rather stay home and not have to deal with a late-night drive home.

So if you are looking to get a ticket to the game this weekend in Iowa City, you may have a good chance to pick up a ticket.

Indiana will wear uniforms honoring the late Terry Hoeppner this weekend

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This weekend when Indiana takes the field, the Hoosiers will be honoring former head coach Terry Hoeppner. To do that on the 10th anniversary of the former coach’s passing, Indiana’s uniforms will have a slight modification to the numbering. Rather than a traditional white block numbering on the front and back, Indiana’s uniform numbers will feature a pattern mimicking Hep’s Rock, which was introduced to the program by the former head coach and remains a fixture within the program.

Hoeppner passed away at the age of 59 in the summer of June 2007. Hoeppner had planned to step away from coaching to focus on a battle with brain cancer that summer, but he fell victim to the disease on June 19, 2007. Though he may have only coached for Indiana for two seasons, his impact on the program was noticeable in helping the program build a foundation. The Hoosiers won four and five games in the two seasons coached by Hoeppner, but the 2007 team carried on his mission to “Play 13” by advancing to the Insight Bowl (now known as the Cactus Bowl). Members of the 2007 bowl team (Indiana lost to Oklahoma State in that bowl game) will be in Bloomington to celebrate the life of Hoeppner, who remains an inspiration for the program to this day.

Houston expects WR D’Eriq King to be available for Texas Tech game

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As Houston prepares for a game that could quickly become a shootout of sorts with Texas Tech, the Cougars could have one more wide receiver good to go this weekend. D’Eriq King is expected to make his season debut for the Cougars this week after missing the past two games coming off an offseason knee injury.

Houston head coach Major Applewhite announced on the radio he feels his young wide receiver option is finally ready to get back at it, and it could come at no better time.

As a freshman in 2016, King caught 20 passes in 10 games for 228 yards and a touchdown. King was expected to be a contributor to the offense this season. Having a healthy receiver is going to be key against a Texas Tech offense that will not shy away from the pass.

Derrius Guice ‘very questionable’ for LSU vs. Syracuse

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LSU could very well be without its most potent offensive weapon when it looks to bounce back from an embarrassing Week 3 loss.

Late in the third quarter of Saturday’s 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, Derrius Guice sustained an injury to his left knee.  The star running back hasn’t practiced at all this week, even as Ed Orgeron downplayed the severity of the injury.

On the SEC teleconference Wednesday, however, the head coach acknowledged that it could be much worse than he’d been letting on, so much so that the Guice could miss the Week 4 game against Syracuse.

“I don’t know if Derrius is going to play,” Orgeron said. “He didn’t dress out yesterday in pads. He’s very questionable right now.”

Through three games, Guice leads the Tigers with 300 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with four rushing touchdowns.  His rushing yards are currently fourth in the SEC; last season, his 1,387 yards were tops in the conference.

Should Guice be unable to go, Darrel Williams (28-159-4) would likely be next in line to shoulder the running-game load.