UTAH UTES

PK: Pac-12’s Reputation Took Hit With Week One Losses

Sep 3, 2022, 9:48 PM | Updated: Sep 6, 2022, 9:47 am

Kyle-Whittingham-Utah-Florida...

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham walks along the sideline as Utah and Florida play in Gainesvillle, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. (Courtesy of Deseret News)

(Courtesy of Deseret News)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Crazy as it sounds, the Pac-12’s reputation was on the line in only the first game of the season deep in the heart of college football country.

After Oregon got thoroughly embarrassed again on Saturday, picking up right where the supposed national brand left off last season, the conference needed some positivity. Reigning national champion destroyed the Ducks 49-3, highlighting the stark contrast between quality of the Southeastern Conference and the embattled group out west.

No longer can Pac-12 call on USC, which crushed lowly Rice 66-14 in coach Lincoln Riley’s debut, to bolster its image. The Los Angeles defector has one football out the door, ready to take the gobs of cash and run to the Big 10 in two years.

It’s up to the relative new kids on the block now. Barely one decade into a 100-year conference, the Utah Utes are left to carry the banner.

Too bad for them, and the conference, they came up one play short. In a classic back-and-forth battle, an interception in the end zone in the final seconds carried Florida to a 29-26 win before a crowd of 90,779, the 10th largest in program history and the best for an opening game.

“Tough, tough loss,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “I’ll tell you what, I’m extremely proud of our team. I’m know there are no moral victories. We’re way past that.”

As star tight end Brant Kuithe said, the Utes squandered several opportunities that could have seized the game. Besides Cam Rising’s interception that thwarted a dramatic comeback, there was the fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line that came up inches short.

Utah’s defense also let quarterback Anthony Richardson get loose for 106 yards on the ground, including a 45-yard scamper for a touchdown. In his first full season as a starter, Richardson ran for three touchdowns.

“Kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” Kuithe said.

Too bad for the Pac-12, which has been in a state of flux since the June 30th announcement that USC and UCLA are leaving the conference. The remaining 10 members need a dose of positive news.

The Conference of Champions, as former UCLA basketball great Bill Walton proclaims countless times during games he calls, is sorely lacking in the one sport that overwhelmingly matters the most. Football is more known as the conference that is fortunate to get one team in a major bowl each postseason.

At No. 7, its highest ranking ever entering a season, Utah is considered the Pac-12’s best bet to finally make the four-team playoff. Oregon and Washington are the only programs to get in, with Huskies the last team in six years ago.

Traditionally better as an underdog, the Utes don’t have the luxury of catching anybody off guard this season. The Gators knew well their first game was not one those creampuffs SEC teams often schedule to tune up for the anticipated rugged conference slate.

As customary around the country in the first week, several Pac-12 teams notched easy wins against grossly inferior competition. Most of them learn nothing about their teams in such lopsided affairs.

Credit Utah for the willingness to schedule this home-and-home series against a program that won national championships in 1996, 2006 and 2008, the last two coming the guidance of former Utah coach Urban Meyer. It’s all part of the intent to beef up a notoriously weak non-conference schedule the Utes played far too long.

Big boy programs gotta play big boy non-conference games. Florida counts well enough, even if the program dumped coach Dan Mullen last season and finished 6-7.

Win or lose, Utah did the right thing by coming here. No way the Utes will play in a better environment the entire season.

“This team is going to win a bunch of games,” Whittingham said.

  • Utah Utes Scoreboard

  • Utah Utes Team Leaders

  • Utah Utes Standings

Utah Utes

wrigley field...

Brian Preece

Locals In MLB: Hodge Delights In Debut, Dunn Returns To Milwaukee

Former Cottonwood Colt Porter Hodge had a memorable MLB debut when he finally took the mound in front of 35,000 fans at beautiful Wrigley Field.

20 hours ago

craig-smith-sits-in-thought-during-runnin-utes-game-2023...

Michelle Bodkin

Utah Basketball Adds Transfer From Eastern Carolina University

The Runnin' Utes got a little better after receiving a commitment from ECU transfer forward Ezra Ausar.

21 hours ago

Cam Rising Brant Kuithe Lander Barton Out For Season...

Michelle Bodkin

Utah Quarterback Cam Rising To Put On Camp For Community

Utah quarterback Cam Rising (along with several of his Utah football teammates) will be putting on a camp for the community in June.

22 hours ago

60 in 60 Fan Vote (2024)...

KSL Sports

Hans & Scotty’s 60 in 60 Fan Vote (2024)

It’s that time of year again, Hans and Scotty G. are counting down the 60 best college football players in the state of Utah ahead of the 2023 college football season.

2 days ago

mark-harlan-will-serve-on-cfp-selection-committee-in-2023...

Michelle Bodkin

Utah Athletics Releases Statement Debunking Rumored ACC Courtship

Memorial Day weekend got off to an interesting start as rumors began to swirl that Utah was in the middle of a courtship with the ACC before even starting their journey with the Big 12.

2 days ago

Micah-Bernard-Utah-Utes-Rose-Bowl-Game...

Michelle Bodkin

Spring Ball Review: A Look At Utah Football’s Running Backs

Today’s focus is on another group that has produced a lot of NFL talent for the Utes- Utah football’s running backs.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Give-A-Thon

The KSL Sports Zone, KSL 5 TV, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow, and KSL NewsRadio have teamed up to raise money for the kids being served by Primary Children’s Care!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

PK: Pac-12’s Reputation Took Hit With Week One Losses