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FLORIDA GATORS AT UTAH UTES: A WEEK ONE PREVIEW


Utah Utes football and the Utah Band
"Utes vs Cougars" by the_robio via Flickr

Date: Thursday, August 31st

Time: 7:00 PM CST

Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah

On the Call: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

Watch on T.V.: ESPN

Listen on Radio: Utah Flagship Radio-ESPN 700 & 92.1 KALL


Florida Gators vs. Utah Utes: The Stakes

Utah is the defending PAC-12 champs and is looking for a path to the College Football Playoff. Florida beat Utah last season in Gainesville 29-26. The Gators ended the 2022 season on a losing streak, looking for a signature win against a ranked opponent.


Man on Man

Florida RB Montrell Johnson rushed for 841 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, including 75 yards and a touchdown against the Utes in Gainesville last season. Utah was 2nd in the PAC-12 against the run last season, allowing 111 yards per game.


Key Florida Players to Watch

Florida starting QB Graham Mertz is a former starter at Wisconsin. He started 32 games for the Badgers and passed for 5405 yards and 38 touchdowns. He completed 60% of his passes over three seasons in Madison. Can Mertz lead the Gators to success this season? He will be looking to silence the critics, the naysayers.


Key Utah Players to Watch

As of this writing, Utah QB Cam Rising will not play against the Gators. So, RB Ja’Quinden Jackson will carry the load. He scored six touchdowns over the final three games last season and totaled 531 rushing yards and nine scores, as a freshman.


On defense, the Utes return their leading tackler in FS Cole Bishop, who will be prowling from sideline to sideline looking to ruin Mertz’s debut for the Gators. Bishop racked up 83 tackles, six tackles for loss, one INT, and three pass breakups.


DT Junior Tafuna was the PAC-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year for the Utes. He racked up 27 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one INT, one pass breakup, and one sack.


Gators vs. Utes: A Prediction

Florida can run the ball, and Mertz will be more than highly motivated to get a “W” for the Gators. But Utah defends their house as well as anyone in the country. They arrive at ball carriers en masse and in a pissed-off state of mind. The Utes win, but they win by a touchdown or less.

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