The TribUte newsletter: The Utah-Florida hype has been building for 9 months. At long last, game week is here

Utes and Gators square off Sept. 3 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah football players pause to remember Aaron lowe and Ty Jordan during a break in the action, between Utah Utes and Ohio State Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, on Saturday, January 1, 2022.

I remember semi-hurrying out of the Rose Bowl on the night of Jan. 1 to catch a shuttle back to the hotel.

On that 30-minute ride back from Pasadena, my mind was racing. Knowing I still had a lot of writing in front of me that night, I was still trying to process what I had just watched, while thinking I needed to get packed for an early flight, which I somehow missed the next morning. There was a lot going on in the immediate aftermath of that game.

When I got back upstairs to my room, I scanned Twitter and the message boards to see what the fans were talking about, as I often do after a game.

Of course, the major topics of conversation were Cam Rising’s concussion, Bryson Barnes nearly playing the hero, Micah Bernard starting at cornerback, and the general sense that Utah and Ohio State had just staged one of those epic back-and-forth games that we’ll all talk about forever.

Aside from post-Rose Bowl chatter, there were pockets of Twitter and the boards that had already begun delving into which Utes might return, and how that might affect things when they open the 2022 season at the University of Florida.

Did you catch all that? Utah just lost, 48-45, in the Rose Bowl, and there was excitement, not for what the Utes would bring back, but for what they might bring back. So much so that some people had already moved on from the previous four hours and were discussing what the 2022 opener might look like at The Swamp.

This was almost nine months ago. Nothing has changed. We’ve all just been talking about it. Players, coaches, fans, media, everyone. Talk, talk, talk. Write, write, write. Talking about the same things, writing about the same things ad nauseum. Well, good news.

Game week is upon us all, and I would be lying if I said I was not looking forward to covering this game and getting the season going.

Nine months is a long time to analyze the same thing, you know?

Other things on my mind

• I’ve talked to enough people over the last two weeks with even a fleeting connection to the Florida football program, including beat writers and other various media types down there, that there is now a consensus as to what they collectively think about Utah. To paraphrase, on paper, the Utes are better than the Gators. That point has not been up for discussion, but those conversations invariably went to Utah having to walk into The Swamp and deal with that environment. That should not be considered a small thing by Utah fans.

• You may have seen certain media members in recent months trying to push the narrative that Cam Rising belongs in the early Heisman conversation. The thing about the early Heisman conversation is that it’s early, so it doesn’t matter. The Heisman conversation in September also doesn’t matter, but at least there are games and stats behind those September arguments. The point I’m trying to make here is, if Utah beats Florida, and Rising shines, that early Heisman stuff is going to get a lot louder, which oughta make for an interesting backdrop for a top 5-7 team as the season continues to unfold.

Kyle Whittingham hasn’t addressed the media since Aug. 15. His first game week news conference of the season is Monday.