By Rory Daniels

College Football finally gets the big-time matchup it has been craving. Week 0 was nice and all, but Week 1 brings us something to get our teeth into. First up, Florida travels to Salt Lake City in a stern test to open their 2023 campaign.

Story so far…

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Utah enters it’s last season as a Pac-12 team. From 2024, they will be members of the Big-12, so it would be extra special for them to win the conference one last time. The Utes have won the conference championship the previous two years, and Kyle Whittingham has built a gritty, powerful team. As long as quarterback Cam Rising returns well from injury, they should challenge again.

For Billy Napier and Florida, the stakes are higher. They went 6-7, and despite the strength of the SEC, Gators fans expected better. Napier is beginning to hit his stride on the recruiting trail, but question marks remain over his assembled roster. The seat is getting warmer in Gainesville.

The Quarterbacks…

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Utah is keeping everyone on their toes when it comes to declaring the fitness of quarterback Cam Rising. If I had to guess, Rising will be given the go-ahead as fully recovered from the ACL injury he sustained in last year’s Rose Bowl. His dual-threat ability makes him one of the most dangerous players in the country. He hopes his mobility will return to complete and he can be the same player as last year.

For the Gators, their starting QB is Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz. His career got off to a flyer for the Badgers, only for a drop-off in recent seasons. It seems risky that Florida has pushed all their chips in on Mertz when his game has been so up and down. There is undoubtedly talent, but can Napier get the best from him?

Prospects to watch…

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Brant Kuithe – The tight end will be fighting to be fit for this game; however, if he is, expect him to be a regular target for Rising. Kuithe will take over a more prominent role in this offense, given the departure of Dalton Kincaid.

Cole Bishop – Bishop can do everything from the safety spot. He moves around the formation and is physical enough to get sacks while being competent as a deep safety.

Jason Marshall Jr – The Florida defense has produced plenty of talent in recent years, and Jason Marshall appears to be the next in line. The junior corner has impressed so far, and a good season could see him vault into Day 1 consideration.

Princely Umanmielan – Florida’s top edge rusher got 16 hurries last year and six sacks. He has the size and athletic traits to be special. Thursday evening will match him against Utah right tackle Sataoa Laumea, in what should be an intriguing battle.


Utah are 6.5 point favourites in this one and as long as Rising returns healthy, they seem good for it. They are more experienced and have home advantage. I think this one could be a dominant victory for the Utes.

Utah 31-17 Florida

Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

Cfb contributor

formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at