Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of The Swamp, there must be some room for mercy. No. 7 Utah’s 29-26 loss to lower-ranked Florida on Saturday night wasn’t just a harrowing, last-second loss, it was a damn football torture.
It’s fair to say that college football has had success with the Pac-12 of late. When it didn’t lose the team, in Week 1, it just lost. On the first real Saturday of the season, it happened twice in different, painful ways. This has happened to the Pac-12 in various ways over the years.
The Gators hope to find a new quarterback (Anthony Richardson) and coach (Billy Napier) over the Utes amid their frustration, but the Pac-12 spent a lot of time Saturday finding new ways to Come as soon as possible to become irrelevant.
We already knew we had surgically removed our guts this summer when USC and UCLA decided to relocate to the Big Ten within two years. Then, the two best remaining teams lose to their SEC rivals within hours, potentially removing the Pac-12 from the college football playoffs before Labor Day.
Do not. Georgia State robbed the Oregon No. 11 in Atlanta’s former defensive coordinator Dan Lanning’s debut with the Ducks Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs scored on their first seven possessions for a 49-3 win. Utah then lost the game with 17 seconds left when Florida State fifth-year linebacker Amari Burney intercepted Cameron Reese in the end zone as the game went on. Rising).
Utah is an emerging state powerhouse that needs a victory in the swamp to gain street cred. Last season ended in a similarly close loss to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. The shutdown wasn’t good enough, especially 18 years under Kyle Whittingham.
So much for the Pac-12: This downturn is not only long but creative. Saturday’s results give the Pac-12 a 1-8 victory over SEC teams in their season openers of the past 11 years. The Pac-12 team is seventh in those eight losses.
The league has gone seven straight years without a team making the College Football Playoffs. We already know that the conference will never be the same without the flagship project in Los Angeles, if it remains a conference in the future.
Back to that hustle and bustle and that swamp. It reveals the story of two trajectories. Utah and its leagues are on a downward trend. Richardson showed some magic in Tim Tebow’s No. 15 jersey. He recorded a career-high three rushing touchdowns, shrugged off an exciting 2-point conversion in the fourth quarter, and led the game-winning shot. Richardson, a Gainesville, Florida, hometown product who started his career for the first time in the Everglades, has the wheels (104 rushing yards) and arms (168 passing yards) to honor No. 15.
Napier made normality cool when the Gators desperately needed it. Dan Mullen’s frenetic workouts have given way to the smooth approach reflected in Florida’s comeback. The Gators trailed a legitimate playoff contender four times. Then Napier (and Richardson) made all the right moves (and throws).
Remember when Napier wasn’t recruiting enough in midsummer? He’s come under fire for writing an open letter to fans that was actually written a month ago, but has been underwhelming when the Gators are beaten on several commitments.
Note for recruits: everything will be fine. In fact, that might also be the team slogan now. Napier “bounced back” in the recruiting process, pushing Florida State into the top 10 before the season. The Gators continue to bounce back in the Everglades, the only place that matters right now, with Napier becoming the first Florida coach to beat a ranked opponent in the program’s first game. Wait until you see what that does to recruiting.
Starting a season with the highest ranking ever, doing so as defending Pac-12 champs, favorite Utah vs. Florida’s 6-yard line — maybe it’s Season – Online. Rising fell back, as did Bernie’s report.
It’s unclear if anyone from Rising has opened up, but tonight it’s clear — at least for Florida — that everything is going ok. The Gators may travel to Kentucky next week, finishing 38th in the preseason AP top 25 total.
Meanwhile, the Utes will take a long flight home, not knowing what happened, what will happen next or when the torture will end.