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‘Nerves are rising’ as Utes-Gators game nears. And that’s a good thing

Coaches ‘losing a lot of sleep at night’ is a telltale sign that go-time is near for Utah and other college football teams around the country

SHARE ‘Nerves are rising’ as Utes-Gators game nears. And that’s a good thing
Utah running back Tavion Thomas (9) and teammates stretch before facing Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

Utah running back Tavion Thomas (9) and teammates stretch before facing Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. The Utes will be stretching out Saturday at The Swamp in Gainesville, Florida, ahead of their season opener against the Gators.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

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The time for talk is almost over.

No. 7 Utah kicks off the much-anticipated 2022 season Saturday against a traditional SEC power, Florida, in a historic venue, The Swamp. In prime time before a national television.

Utes TV

Utes on the air

No. 7 Utah (0-0)

at Florida (0-0)

Saturday, 5 p.m. MDT

Gainesville, Florida


Radio: ESPN 700

The stakes couldn’t be much higher.

The Utes are not only picked to repeat as Pac-12 champions, but they are a popular pick to reach the College Football Playoff.

For Utah, what is the anticipation level for what’s coming this weekend?

“Pretty high. It’s game week,” said linebackers coach Colton Swan. “I’m losing a lot of sleep at night. Does that tell you something? It’s a good thing. It makes you want to prepare and work even harder.”

This game will be a homecoming of sorts for Florida transfer linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, who will be facing his former team Saturday.

“We’re feeling good. Nerves are rising,” he said. “We’ve been waiting on this for a long time.”

In case you missed it

Utah quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson was named the second recipient of the Ty Jordan/Aaron Lowe Memorial Scholarship.

A Texan like both Jordan and Lowe, Jackson met Jordan when the latter was in the eighth grade and played against him growing up. Lowe, meanwhile, was one of Jackson’s closest friends from the moment he arrived on campus at the U.

“I appreciate y’all for letting me represent the guys this year,” Jackson told his teammates. “You all know how close we were and how much they meant to me. … Love y’all. Let’s keep this ball rolling.”

Numbers game

4.4:  Time in the 40-yard dash posted by Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson.

66: Passes attempted by Richardson during his career.  

59: Richardson’s career completion percentage.

From the archives

Extra points

  • This Utah assistant is undefeated at The Swamp. He wants to keep it that way (Deseret News)
  • Can Utah’s offense be explosive from the outset in season opener against Florida? (Deseret News)
  • ‘It will take our best effort’: Kyle Whittingham talks depth chart, season opener at Florida, and a stormy forecast (Deseret News)
  • Here’s Utah Utes’ 2022 two-deep chart (Deseret News)
  • ‘It’s the peak of college football’; Will No. 7 Utah be ready for the intense noise and humidity at The Swamp? (Deseret News)
  • Utah football bolstered by the return of healthy defensive backs after Rose Bowl (Deseret News)
  • A football life: Former Utes coach Ron McBride just can’t hang up the whistle (Deseret News)
  • ‘Put your best 11 on the field’: Depth, versatility will be key for Utah’s defense (Deseret News)
  • ‘He’s our Deebo Samuel’: ‘How Micah Bernard became one of Utah’s top playmakers (Deseret News)


We’re supposed to have anywhere between 10-12K in attendance, which is phenomenal.

UF has ELITE SEC talent & a HC that learned at Clemson/Alabama. ... UF rarely loses at home (Alabama barely eked out a 2-pt victory there last year). ... It’s my understanding the crowd is right on top of you in what many claim is the loudest outdoor stadium in the nation, so it’ll be a formidable environment. … Can’t wait!


Florida’s has only won 60% of their games in the SEC in the last 3 years, are only the third best team in Florida according to most experts, only have 14/22 starters back, and have a brand new coaching staff and playbook. So if rankings are accurate, 38th ranked Florida should be mauled by the mighty #7 Utes and the 2nd team should be playing by the 3rd quarter. Right?

HMMM? This doesn’t make sense. Why is Florida favored to win at 52% by the FPI? Why is Utah’s betting odds only at -2.5 points and falling? That is less than a single field goal. Looks like the rest of the country and the people who are willing to put their money where their mouths are, aren’t sold on Utah’s resume of BARELY losing to OSU in the Rose Bowl or winning the pathetic Pac-12 last year. You could also sum it all up by a lack of respect for the mighty Utes.

— perilous times

Up next

Sept. 1 | 7 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Cal-State Fullerton | @Salt Lake City | Utah Live Stream

Sept. 2 | 10 a.m. | Volleyball | vs. Milwaukee | @Lafayette, Indiana

Sept. 2 | 10 a.m. | Volleyball | vs. Purdue | @Lafayette, Indiana

Sept. 3 | 10 a.m. | Volleyball | vs. Bradley | @Lafayette, Indiana

Sept. 3 | 5 p.m. | Football | vs. Florida | @Gainesville, Florida | ESPN

Sept. 4 | 6 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Alabama | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Network

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham watches during practice for the Rose Bowl against Ohio State Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham watches during practice for Rose Bowl game against Ohio State at a field at Harbor College in Wilmington, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. Next up for the Utes is Saturday’s season opener vs. the Florida Gators.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News