It isn’t always what happens on the field during the game that can make the difference in the outcome between two teams.
The recent news that just came out of Gainesville is more than just a small change to the season opener at Jerry World for Michigan and Florida.
It has a direct impact to the outlook on the game.
Las Vegas would agree. On Sunday, Florida decided to suspend seven players from their roster for the first game, which happens to be the Wolverines. The odds out of Vegas changed from Michigan at -2.5 to Michigan -4.5, according to 247Sports.com’s Steve Lorenz.
"We have a small group of players that have made some choices that are extremely disappointing," Florida coach Jim McElwain said in a news release.
"Action has been taken -- they have missed some practice and will miss the Michigan game. We will use this as a learning opportunity and we will have some players step up as we move forward."
Out of the seven players, it's no question their biggest loss is their leading receiver Antonio Callaway, who has been suspended for more than just one incident at Florida (allegations of sexual battery in 2016).
The remaining six players who were suspended from the showdown between No. 9 Michigan and No. 16 Florida in Arlington, Texas at 3:30 on Sept. 2 may not be as well known, but doesn't make it any better for Florida.
Those players are: junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis, redshirt sophomore defensive end Richerd Desir-Jones, freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith and freshman linebackers Ventrell Miller and James Houston.
In an article from The Read Optional, players on Florida’s team were using school-issued debit cards to buy electronic devices that cost a hefty amount and would later sell them for cash. They later claimed that their cards had been stolen, but the school believed otherwise.
It has not been made clear to this point whether Callaway or his teammates were involved, but no matter how you cut it, they won't be on the field to start the season and have missed some practice time.
Regardless of the reasoning behind the suspension or what anyone thinks of Florida, it shakes up the game plan and matchups for the for both teams.
Here's some thoughts on what areas of importance will be affected by these outcomes.
Where Florida takes a hit the most
It doesn't take much time to look over the players that were taken out of this game to figure out that Callaway hurts them more than anyone else.
The 5-foot-11 wideout was outstanding for the Gators a season ago. He recorded 54 receptions for 721 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games (11 of which he started). He was a problem for anyone's secondary, while a young and new Michigan set of defensive backs wouldn't be an exception.
The speed of Callaway is what left most teams speechless, whether that was on special teams as a punt returner or running deep routes and creating separation on the receiving end. With a new quarterback in transfer Malik Zaire that is expected to start, Callaway would've been a huge help to get something going against the rather overall untested Michigan secondary.
Who will replace Callaway to help Florida try to overcome the loss? It has to be junior wide receiver Brandon Powell. The 5-foot-10, 171-pound athlete reeled in 45 catches last season for 387 yards two TD’s in 13 games (starting 11 of them).
The biggest difference between the two is their yards per catch. While they are very comparable in the speed category, Powell averaged 8.6 yards per catch compared to 13.4 for Callaway.
Tyrie Cleveland will be the other receiving option that will need to step up in Callaway’s absence. While he only played in eight games last season (starting four), the 6-foot-2, 189-pound sophomore has a clearly larger physical build than Callaway or Powell. He made 14 catches last season for 298 yards with a pair of TD’s, one of which was a 50-yard explosion showing he can break free when given the chance.
Nevertheless, Florida suddenly has to have players fill in a large void within the receiving core left from Callaway. It won't be easy, and it now makes the matchup between Michigan's corners and Florida’s passing game seem a little more comparable.
The other options with game experience are there in Cleveland and Powell, but they haven't consistently shown the effectiveness that Callaway brings to the table at this point.
Next in line
While Callaway was the visible difference that the Gators lost from their roster in the opening game, the rest of the players on the suspended list are not as clearly numbered in rank.
If there was one player who could've been on the verge of a breakout year and show improvement, it would be Davis. The strong-side DE played in all 13 contests for the Gators last year (starting five), while he tallied 27 tackles (three for a loss) and 1.5 sacks.
While he wasn't going to necessarily be an essential need for Florida to win the game, the the 6-foot-4, 241-pounder would have played a role in the defensive line rotation. Without him, they could see a drop in the level of talent with his replacement.
The other two players that had the redshirt, Smith and Desir-Jones, have been with the system but still haven't played a large factor on Saturday’s to this point. However, they still lose potential newcomers that could have made a difference this year and will be a loss on the depth chart in week one.
Florida still has a very experienced defensive line with junior Cece Jefferson and redshirt sophomore Jabari Zuniga that will keep them rolling, but Desir-Jones and Smith may have been a part of their plan to give these players a blow during games.
Michigan doesn't exactly have the No. 1 offensive line in the country either, with a rather shaky starting right tackle to this moment. It's not to say Florida still won't be fine with their starters, but players get tired and this could be an advantage to Michigan.
Either way, Florida had the fifth overall best defense in the nation last season and should still have some success against Michigan’s O-line. However, losing some of these depth players could weigh heavy on the Gators as the game plays out.
As for Houston, Telfort and Miller, it's not as big of a loss to Florida for the game against Michigan. All three of these players are freshman, so the talent was still unproven.
So where does Michigan gain advantages?
At the end of the day, not in many areas other than the depth of Florida’s bench and taking out Callaway who was one of the team's most valuable players.
For Michigan, junior Tyree Kinnel and sophomore Josh Metellus are expected to start at safety, but the cornerback position still doesn't have any cemented decisions. Sophomore’s Levert Hill and David Long, junior Keith Washington and senior Brandon Watson still all have a chance to win the starting spot.
Regardless of who it is, they all won't have to worry about facing the Gator’s toughest test at receiver now, which could relieve some nerves and maybe even equalize talent against the active wide receivers on Florida’s squad for the game.
In an article posted today by mlive’s Aaron McMann, defensive backs coach Brian Smith said that it doesn't make a difference in how they will prepare.
"Right now, we're just focusing on getting better," Smith said in the article. "We're at a point where that's a few weeks into the future. We're just trying to get better from a standpoint of our assignments and getting guys lined up."
While this does pose some advantages, and it could play out to be significant for the outcome of this game, it doesn't give Michigan a certain blowout by any means.
The game still has to be played out on the field, and while Florida now loses some depth, Michigan has plenty of question marks of their own in that category.
However, if the game is decided late on a comeback, or their are multiple dropped passes (maybe even one to end the game on a fourth down), it could be looked at as the players who were not able to be involved ended up making a difference.
Until then, both teams have just under three weeks to prepare for the game and improve in the areas needed.