Utah Utes, Florida Gators Season Opener Sets Attendance Record At Rice-Eccles Stadium
Aug 31, 2023, 7:56 PM
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah fans showed out for the season opener at Rice-Eccles Stadium, setting an all-time attendance record.
53,644 people filled the stands to watch the Utes and Gators face off to start the season.
We have set an all-time attendance record at Rice-Eccles Stadium of 53,644!!
— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) September 1, 2023
This broke the former record of 53,609 people at the Utah and USC game in 2022.
Utah led 17-3 over Florida at halftime.
Wide receiver Money Parks and quarterback Nate Johnson were the touchdown scorers for the Utes.
Halftime in SLC.
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) September 1, 2023
Rice-Eccles Stadium was drowning in red, matching the all-red jerseys that Utah was wearing.
Three Storylines For Florida Vs. Utah
- Cam Rising – this should come as no surprise to anyone who has been keeping tabs of the Utes ahead of their 2023 football season. Rising has been diligently recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in the Rose Bowl earlier this year and has made great strides. However, it is looking like he may not be quite ready to start which means Utah may be playing with Bryson Barnes and/or Nate Johnson under center.
- Florida’s Travel To Utah – there are 2,207 miles between Gainesville, Florida and Salt Lake City, Utah that got complicated earlier in the week with Idalia strengthening into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gators originally planned to travel to Utah on Wednesday but left a day early with a stop in Dallas, Texas to avoid being trapped by the storm. That amount of travel in one day is hard enough, but having to split it up into two is even more interesting and could have some effects on the game along with the increased elevation.
- Utah’s Defense – last season the Utes were not their typical, sharp selves against the Gators and it went a long way to costing them the game. Utah’s defense has not forgotten that and there has been a lot of talk about the things they have done and addressed to be better prepared this year.
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Two Questions Heading Into Florida Vs. Utah
- Can Utah beat Florida without Cam Rising? With things trending toward Rising not playing against the Gators, one of the biggest questions surrounding this game is if the Utes can survive a game or two without their QB1. Overall, backup Bryson Barnes has shown fairly well in his limited opportunities and there has been a lot of talk about Utah’s improved depth all over the team that will certainly be put to the test if Rising truly is a no-go.
- Who Is Florida Under Graham Mertz? Florida has undergone some changes since they met the Utes last season in Gainesville. The Anthony Richardson era is done as he moved on to the NFL and the Gators are now breaking in Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz. Interestingly enough, a report came out this week that before landing on Mertz, the Gators looked into Utah quarterback Cam Rising. Does Mertz have what it takes to help second year Florida head coach Billy Napier move the Gators in the right direction.
Utah fans are WILD 🐊 pic.twitter.com/DoZwMQVmo5
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) August 31, 2023
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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.
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