College Football Season

Journey through Week 1 of the College Football Season

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In the highly anticipated second leg of a home-and-home series, the Florida Gators are heading to Salt Lake City to face off against the Utah Utes. Last season, Florida pulled off an upset victory in Week 1, thanks in part to the magic of quarterback Anthony Richardson. However, this season, the Gators have lost Richardson to the NFL Draft and are dealing with a two-year streak of losing seasons. In contrast, Utah had a strong season in 2022, with just two losses after returning from Gainesville and securing a Pac-12 championship, earning them consecutive Rose Bowl bids.

Recent injury news from the Utah camp may give the Gator Nation more confidence as they prepare to face a top-15 opponent. Utah’s starting quarterback, Cam Rising, is reportedly doubtful for the Thursday night matchup, and tight end Brant Kuithe, who played a significant role in last season’s game against Florida, is also facing injury challenges. As a result, both teams are expected to rely heavily on their running games, with Florida having Montrell Johnson (who averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2022) and Utah’s backup quarterback, Bryson Barnes, likely leaning on his two talented running backs, Micah Bernard and Ja’Quinden Jackson.

In another Thursday night matchup, Nebraska is set to take on Minnesota in a Big Ten West showdown. Nebraska is aiming to start the season 1-0 for the first time since 2019. They have made significant changes in the offseason, including hiring head coach Matt Rhule, offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield, and defensive coordinator Tony White. Minnesota, on the other hand, saw changes with former offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca moving to Rutgers and the end of Tanner Morgan’s five-year stint as starting quarterback.

Both teams faced offseason challenges, with Minnesota losing star running back Mohamed Ibrahim to the NFL. However, they have a capable replacement in Sean Tyler, who excelled in all-purpose yards last season. Minnesota is expected to stick with their ground-and-pound style against Nebraska’s questionable front seven. Nebraska, on the other hand, will entrust three-year Georgia Tech starter Jeff Sims with the quarterback position and surround him with a talented receiving corps, including Zavier Betts and Georgia transfer MJ Sherman.

As these teams prepare to take the field on Thursday night, college football fans are in for an exciting start to the season. It’s a rare occurrence for these storied programs to play regular-season games on Thursdays, making this evening’s matchups even more special. Florida last played on a Thursday in 1992, while Utah has embraced Thursday games more recently, and Nebraska boasts a strong Thursday game record, dating back to their program’s inception in 1890.

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