In front of a confirmed 90,799 fans, the unranked Florida Gators pulls off the upset over #7 Utah. The Pac-12 defending champions versus a rebuilding Florida team became the unexpected game of the week.
In a game where Utah was expected to ring the alarm and hold the flag for the Pac-12 high, the Utes were stunned in Gainesville. Ultimately, the game came down to one team stepping up in key moments and the other folding.
Utah came in with most of its key playmakers from 2021. Quarterback Cameron Rising for Utah played damn near a perfect game. He was dynamic on the ground and efficient threw the air. Completing 68% of his passes and throwing one touchdown in the face a young athletic defense.
Risings did something that most quarterbacks in college struggled with; he took what the defense gave him. Once more, Rising had the benefit of throwing to a monster tight-ends. If the country didn’t know who Brant Kuithe was before the game the definitely know him now.
Kuithe was targeted 12 times on the night and caught 9 of them for 105 yards and 1 touchdown. It was a magnificent performance. The Utes needed every ounce of Kuithe ability in this game. Unfortunately, the efforts wasn’t enough.
Two costly turnovers were ultimately the difference. The Utes were stooped on fourth down at the 1 yard line. It was a strong testament to the Gators bend but don’t break defense.
Lastly, Rising threw the game clenching interception into the end zone. It was a bitter end to a great game.
Head coach Billy Napier knew this matchup would be a tough one to start his tenure. Yet, there was a sense of possibility entering this game.
As I wrote previously, coach Napier was fortunate to inherit a unknown Heisman candidate at quarterback. Gainesville native, Anthony Richardson, made his name known with his performance.
At 6’4 235 lbs, Richardson aka “Rich Rich” put on a stellar performance. In the beginning, Richardson looked rushed. The touch on the ball wasn’t there and the decision to run looked questionable at times. But, that lasted for only the first two drives of the game.
Once Richardson settled down he began to go to work. Throwing 17/24 for 168 yards all while rushing for 105 yards on 11 carries and 3 touchdowns. It became crystal clear that if the Gators were going to win this game it would be because of Richardson.
His smooth release to go along with the his big arm helped him gun the ball into tight windows. Also, what was also impressive was when he began to put touch on the ball. Nonetheless, every pass thrown came packaged in a tight spiral.
One could mistaken Richardson for the next Cam Newton if you saw the game. Ultimately, until the Gators find there go to receivers the offense will be a run heavy offense.
The play of the game will be the interception at the end of the game while the next play will be the goal line stand at the end of the 2nd quarter. However, the smoothest play of the night will be the magician work Richardson did on a two point conversion.
In this back-and-forth battle we got to see what can happen when two Heisman Trophy level quarterbacks battle against each other.
Even in a loss, Cameron Rising gained the respect of every person watching that game. He made the plays and moved the ball when it counted for Utah. Although smaller, in some moments Rising gave off a Tim Tebow aura. Physical, fast, determined, calm, and a true leader of young men.
No, we did not get a speech, but we did get a performance. Generating over 300 yards in a game versus an SEC opponent is impressive. The defense for Florida could very well be the best defense he will face all year.
Anthony Richardson on the other hand might have put the SEC on notice. The plays he made at the moments he made them were Heisman like.
Richardson will have plenty of other big games threwout the season to create more Heisman like moments.