Among those around the country that are singing the praises of No. 7 Utah football is the ESPN “College GameDay” crew.

During the “College GameDay” season debut show last Saturday, the Utes, and their prospects for this season, were discussed — a lot.

Utes on the air

No. 7 Utah (0-0)

at Florida (0-0)

Saturday, 5 p.m. MDT

Gainesville, Florida


Radio: ESPN 700

For example, the entire “GameDay” panel picked Utah to repeat as Pac-12 champions.

Most significantly, analysts Lee Corso and David Pollack both projected the Utes to reach the College Football Playoff.

Pollack predicts that the Utes will face Ohio State in the semifinal — a rematch of last year’s Rose Bowl — in the CFP but will lose again to the Buckeyes.

Corso, meanwhile, has Utah falling to Alabama in the first round of the CFP. 

The Utes open the season Saturday (5 p.m. MDT, ESPN) at Florida.

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Analyst Chris Fallica offered reasons why Utah could be a playoff team.

“I think you would need to look at Utah. No. 1, because we saw them in the Rose Bowl last year and we saw them go head-to-head with Ohio State, we saw them put up a bunch of points and a bunch of yards; they just couldn’t hang on,” he said. “We know that they’re in a league that they’re probably going to win. So if Utah can go to Gainesville the first week of the year and have a road SEC nonconference win in their opener and they end up winning the Pac-12 and you’re 12-1 or 13-0 after the conference championship game, Utah would obviously be in the playoff … Utah would be the team that makes the most sense from both a logical standpoint from where they are in their league and from where they are on the field with an offense that could be the best in Kyle Whittingham’s era.”

While discussing the marquee matchups in Week One of the college football season, “GameDay” analyst Kirk Herbstreit highlighted the Utah-Florida showdown.

“I’m going to say Utah traveling into the SEC. How often do we see a Pac-12 team going into the SEC in late August or early September like this and dealing with that heat and humidity?” he said. “The Gators, with a new coach in Billy Napier taking on, I think all of us agree, a dangerous Utah team with Cam Rising and so many talented players around him. That’s a good one and an important one for Utah with their aspirations.”

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham, wearing black, walks onto the field
Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham walks onto the field prior to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
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