The first ranked team in action in Week 1 of the 2023 college football season is No. 13 Utah of the Pac-12 – in its final season in the Pac-12 – as the Utes host unranked Florida on Thursday. Utah likely will be without starting QB Cam Rising but is favored on the NCAAF odds.
2023 College Football Odds and Expert Analysis: Florida Gators vs. No. 14 Utah Utes | 2023 NCAAF Expert Analysis
Regular Season: August 26 to December 9
Week 1: Saturday, August 26 to Monday, September 4, 2023
How to Bet Florida at Utah NCAA Football Odds & TV Info
When: Thursday, 8 PM ET
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium
Opening NCAAF Lines: Utah -6.5 (46.5)
Last year, these teams opened in Gainesville and Florida upset No. 7 Utah 29-26. Anthony Richardson rushed for three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 1:25 to play, but the outcome was in doubt until UF senior linebacker Amari Burney made a diving interception of Utah quarterback Cameron Rising’s pass into the end zone with 17 seconds left to preserve the victory, UF’s first over a ranked opponent to start the season in 53 years. Richardson is now in the NFL.
Why Bet on Florida?
Florida will break in a new starting QB with Anthony Richardson now a rookie with the Indianapolis Colts and that will be former Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz. Last for UW, he started every regular season game for a third straight season. Mertz completed 164-of-286 (57.3) passes for 2,136 yards and 19 touchdowns, all career-bests. His 135.0 passer rating was his best in any season as a starter. Mertz finished his career at UW with a 19-13 record as a starter, ranking T-6th in program history in starts and 8th in wins by a quarterback.
Florida is 8-13 all-time in true road season openers including a 6-4 mark in the last 10 dating back to 1956. This is Florida’s third true road game in a season opener in the last 38 years (1987 at Miami, 2020 at Ole Miss).
The last time the Gators faced a ranked opponent on the road in a season opener was in 1987 at No. 10 Miami (L, 31-4). Florida last opened consecutive seasons against ranked opponents in 1953-54 against Rice in Houston (L, 20-16; L, 34-14). The Gators have never won ranked matchups in back-to-back season openers. Florida has lost just one season opener since 1990, going 30-1 in that span (2017: No. 11 Michigan 33, No. 17 Florida 17).
The Gators return four starters on offense, four starters on defense and two on special teams. Entering year two of the Billy Napier era, Florida brought in a combined 123 starts via the transfer portal over the offseason. Those 13 players have accumulated more than 10,000 total snaps during their college careers.
In their first seasons as Gators, RB Montrell Johnson Jr. (155 carries, 841 yards, 5.4 YPC, 10 TD) and RB Trevor Etienne (118 carries, 718 yards, 6.1 YPC, 6 TD) teamed up to form one of the top backfield duos in the country. They are both back. They were one of 15 RB duos in the FBS to rush for over 700 yards apiece last season, including one of three duos to do so while each averaging over 5.4 YPC.
Florida has scored in 436 consecutive games dating back to 1988 – an NCAA record and 55 games longer than any other college football team in the history of the sport.
Bet Florida Gators to Win
MyBookie Betting Lines for NCAAF
Why Bet on Utah?
Utah is the defending Pac-12 champion and we last saw the Utes lose to Penn State in the Rose Bowl, 35-21. Despite holding Penn State to just 14 first downs in the game, chunk plays would be a thorn in the Utes’ side with the Nittany Lions averaging 8.3 yards per play on offense, including 17.4 yards per completion. After coming in during the third quarter for an injured Cameron Rising, quarterback Bryson Barnes finished the game 10-of-19 passing for 112 yards and a touchdown. Rising was also 8-of-21 for 95 yards and a touchdown, adding 10 rushes for 47 yards.
Rising has been the team’s starting QB the past two seasons but he tore an ACL in that Rose Bowl loss. Rising is listed as the QB1 for the Florida opener but it doesn’t guarantee that he will play because he hasn’t been fully cleared yet. Last year, Rising started in 13 games, recording 3,034 yards on 249-of-385 passing (8 INT, 26 TD), adding 77 rushes for 465 yards and six touchdowns. He ranked in the top-30 in the FBS in completion percentage (.647), passing touchdowns (26) and points responsible for (196). If he can’t go, it likely will be Barnes.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham is set to coach in his 355th overall game at Utah and his 229th as head coach on Thursday. Utah is 77-51-1 all-time in season openers with just three season-opening losses in the last 16 seasons. The Utes have opened the year at home 13 times in the Whittingham era and are 12-1 in those games.
Utah is 112-36 (.756) in Rice-Eccles Stadium (1998-present) and is 84-25 in RES during the Kyle Whittingham era. The Utes have five undefeated home seasons under Whittingham (2022, 6-0; 2021, 6-0; 2019, 7-0; 2009, 6-0; 2008, 6-0) with the Utes winning 25 of its last 26 home games, including a streak of 14 in a row (Dec. 5, 2020-present).
The Utes landed a league-high six student-athletes on the preseason All-Pac-12 team (Keaton Bills, OL; Cole Bishop, S; Brant Kuithe, TE; Sataoa Laumea, OL; Karene Reid, LB; Junior Tafuna, DT).
Utah ranks No. 14 in the preseason AP Poll, marking the fifth straight season the Utes have ranked inside the top-25 in the preseason poll. The Utes ranked inside the AP top-20 through all 16 weeks in 2022 (includes preseason and final poll), the longest streak since 2019 (17 weeks). Utah is 71-25 when ranked in the AP Poll under Whittingham.
Bet Utah Utes to Win
MyBookie Betting Lines for NCAAF
Utah 27, Florida 20
2023 NCAA College Football National Championship Odds to Win
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