Why Utah football’s opener at Florida is so crucial for the Utes — and the Pac-12

Florida fans cheer in the stands during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Alabama, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


LOS ANGELES — Nine months after falling to Ohio State in a memorable Rose Bowl game, Utah opens the 2022 season against another traditional national powerhouse in Florida.

This time, on Sept. 3, the Utes will play a Southeastern Conference road game as they visit the Swamp in Gainesville.

It’s a crucial contest not only for Utah’s program, but also for the Pac-12, which is looking to make a much-needed statement early this season.

“That’s very important. Every game obviously is important, but when you have a chance to go down to SEC country, play a storied program like Florida with their history, a tradition, in a place like the Swamp, that’s a challenge for our guys,” said coach Kyle Whittingham.

“It’s important for the Pac-12 to make noise on the national scene whenever we get opportunities like that. There’s several other teams in the league that are going to have similar opportunities. We have to make the most of it. If you want to gain respect, gain national attention, you got to come out and win some of those games. Hopefully we can go down there and play like we’re capable of.”

In his opening comments at media day last Friday, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff highlighted the league’s nonconference opportunities on Sept. 3. That day, there’s another Pac-12 vs. SEC showdown as Oregon takes on Georgia. 

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Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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