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College football games, Week 1: Utah aims to make statement as favorite vs. Florida in The Swamp

None of that is precisely new for Utah. It has been greater than 13 years for the reason that Utes beat then-No. 4 Alabama within the Sugar Bowl. Utah has performed in three of the final 4 Pac-12 Championship Video games, lastly breaking by way of final season for its first Pac-12 title.

In what could be essentially the most consequential recreation of Week 1, No. 7 Utah travels to Florida as considerably of an unintentional nationwide energy. Underrated in a disrespected convention, the Utes are not a curiosity. Their coach, Kyle Whittingham, has developed a reliable playoff contender in his 18th season main this system.

Utah has its quarterback, inspirational Texas switch Cameron Rising, an intimidating entrance seven on protection and the respect of CBS Sports activities. Our consultants have been all concerning the Utes when making their preseason College Football Playoff picks

And we’re not alone. Utah enters The Swamp on Saturday as a 3-point favourite.

“I feel we’re nonetheless preventing for [recognition] in a method,” mentioned Whittingham, who tied with Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy because the second-longest tenured FBS coach. “We’re a program that’s nonetheless engaged on a model, attempting to turn into extra of a nationwide presence. However you have to earn that. The best way you do that’s, each time you’ve an opportunity on nationwide tv, you have to play your method into that respect.”

The following step is to be the primary Pac-12 group to advance to the CFP within the final six years. An enormous cause the league misplaced USC and UCLA — and finds itself weak to additional departures — is as a result of it has not completed a lot on the sphere as of late.

Beating Florida is essential, however the subsequent transfer after that’s to outlast regardless of the Pac-12 turns into. In different phrases, turn into that legit nationwide energy.

Utah is enjoying an SEC opponent for less than the eighth time in its historical past, the primary time since that Alabama win. Win and a pathway to top-four consideration opens. USC is at residence in what shapes up as a do-or-die recreation on Oct. 15. Aside from a visit to Oregon on Nov. 19, Utah’s solely street video games are at Arizona State, UCLA, Washington State and Colorado.

Solely six lively FBS coaches have extra wins than Whittingham’s 144. Florida’s Billy Napier has 40 at Louisiana however is making his debut with the Gators on Saturday night time.

Win or lose, let’s simply say Utah has choices as soon as USC and UCLA depart the Pac-12. It is maybe the league’s greatest program for the time being. (It is actually essentially the most highly effective.) You do not have to be an insider to be acquainted with Utah’s physicality.

“We’ll make you are feeling us after we’re on the sphere,” Rising mentioned. “We’ll run the ball down your throat. We’ll throw it excessive. The protection goes to return with some animosity.”

College football wants a Cinderella. An expanded playoff will most assuredly present it. Thus far, Cincinnati is the closest factor to it after going 12-0 final season earlier than being dispatched by Alabama within the CFP. If Utah makes it into the Soccer 4 this season, it might be the third first-timer within the bracket within the final two years (Michigan and Cincinnati the others).

That is why the Pac-12 jokes and jabs can cease (or not less than be muffled) in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday night time.

“When you’ve an opportunity to go right down to SEC nation, play a storied program like Florida with their historical past in a spot like The Swamp, that is a problem for our guys,” Whittingham mentioned. “It is essential for the Pac-12 to make noise on the nationwide scene every time we get alternatives like that.”

Ohio State-Notre Dame: Even when Jim Knowles hadn’t been introduced in to fix the defense, the No. 2 Buckeyes might arguably outscore everybody on their solution to a playoff berth. However that protection is fastened and recreation between two uber manufacturers should not be a lot of 1 on the sphere. Not in Marcus Freeman’s second recreation as a coach of the No. 5 Combating Irish, that are opening the season as a 17.5-point underdog in The Shoe.

Duck! If Alabama did not exist, we might be speaking about No. 3 Georgia going back-to-back. The protection will probably be prime 10, as an alternative of generational. However the tight finish room is the perfect within the nation. You already know Kirby Sensible will run the ball, and Stetson Bennett is a longtime starter at quarterback, considerably of a rarity inside his personal convention. That is one other case of a first-time coach going into the stomach of the beast. It is in all probability a good suggestion new Oregon coach Dan Lanning — Georgia’s former celebrity defensive coordinator — hasn’t recognized his beginning quarterback. “I do know who the quarterback goes to be,” Sensible mentioned. Depend on switch Bo Nix, a three-year starter at Auburn, getting the nod for the No. 11 Geese. In three begins — all losses — towards the Bulldogs, Nix has been held beneath his profession common in completion share, passing yards, dashing yards.

Too many Wolverines: Jim Harbaugh took exception to outdated saying: When you have two quarterbacks you do not have one. Going into the season opener towards Colorado State, Michigan’s coach has not less than discovered a solution to hold his quarterback room intact on this age of If I am not startin’, I am departin’. He’ll alternate starters in not less than the primary two video games between incumbent Cade McNamara and sophomore J.J. McCarthy. McNamara will begin towards the Rams. McCarthy will begin the following week towards Hawaii. A everlasting starter will probably be named for Week 3 when No. 8 Michigan faces Northern Illinois. McNamara, who led the Wolverines to the Large Ten title and a playoff berth final yr, has been named a captain. If McCarthy, a sophomore with extra upside, would not get the everlasting job, Harbaugh’s subsequent trick will protecting him out of the switch portal.

JRP sighting: We might write a e book on careers resuscitated by way of the switch portal, however the story of UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is a novel one. Gumby could be jealous at how bendable and versatile this man will be. Manner again in 2019, Plumlee set Ole Miss‘ freshman dashing file (1,023 yards). Final yr, he had his first 100-yard receiving recreation. Pairing Plumlee with Gus Malzahn appears promising after the departure of Dillon Gabriel to Oklahoma (as soon as Caleb Williams left for USC). It is a good distance, or possibly not, from freshman All-American to Matt Corral receiver to AAC quarterback. The Knights open with South Carolina State.

Portal professionals: Clay Helton might not have been the person at USC. He’s, nonetheless, one of many biggest collectors of quarterback expertise within the faculty’s historical past. Three guys he recruited will begin in Energy 5 conferences this weekend. Former Pac-12 freshman of the yr Kedon Slovis takes over for Kenny Pickett at Pittsburgh, former five-star JT Daniels is on his third faculty at West Virginia, and 1,300-yard passer Jaxson Dart takes over at Ole Miss.

Greene retrospective: Bryan Harsin was going to have a tough time protecting his job with or with out the athletic director who employed him, Allen Greene. However Greene is gone, and Auburn begins the season with a tune-up towards Mercer. A tune-up for what, precisely? Auburn is enjoying, not less than by one measure, the hardest schedule within the nation. Nix is gone, for higher or worse. In hiring Harsin, Greene went above the heads of Auburn influencers who wished former Tigers defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. If Scott Frost has the most well liked seat getting into the season, Harsin is 1B. Glad trails, AG, to a category act.

Finest likelihood for a Week 1 upset: Central Michigan over Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Chippewas have the 2021 leading rusher Lew Nichols III coming off a season through which they received 9 video games for the primary time since 2009. The Cowboys are 12-0 vs. Group of 5 groups since dropping to Central Michigan in 2016.

Fast kicks: Instance 1,267 of what realignment has accomplished to rivalries: the Yard Brawl between West Virginia and Pittsburgh is renewed for the primary since 2011. The Mountaineers have not been the identical since Wealthy Rodriguez led his group to the brink of a BCS berth solely to be upset by the Panthers 13-9 in 2007. Wealthy Rod accepted, then turned down, the job at Alabama. West Virginia has been ranked on the finish of the season solely six occasions since … Texas (internet hosting ULM) is coming off its longest dropping streak (six video games) in 65 years with a kind of defeats coming by the hands of Kansas. The difficulty needed to be releasing a depth chart … There are 15 true street favorites in Week 1 in video games involving FBS groups solely … No. 1 Alabama (internet hosting Utah State) has received all 15 of Nick Saban’s openers by double digits … LSU‘s Brian Kelly is not asserting his beginning quarterback both previous to Sunday’s opener towards Florida State in New Orleans. A slight lean ought to go to Arizona State switch Jayden Daniels, a senior whose passer ranking declined in all three of his years within the desert.

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