One of the more hyped games of Week 1 of the 2022 college football season came down to the final seconds.
New Florida head coach Billy Napier began his college tenure in Gainesville with a 29-26 victory over No. 7 Utah in The Swamp. Gators linebacker Amari Burney intercepted Utes quarterback Cameron Rising in the end zone with 17 seconds left to wrap up the hard-fought, satisfying victory.
Here are the three takeaways from the thrilling contest between the Gators and the Utes.
1. Anthony Richardson will keep Florida competitive in 2022
The star of Saturday's victory was clearly Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, who used his arm, legs and elusiveness against Utah's defense. After spitting snaps with Emory Jones, who transferred to Arizona State during the offseason, Richardson looked like one of the 2022 season's potential breakout stars.
Richardson threw for 168 yards and ran for 104 and three touchdowns in the win. The one touchdown that was huge for the Gators was the 45-yarder along with Richardson's two-point conversion pass that gave Florida a 22-19 lead.
After Utah scored a touchdown to regain the lead, Richardson once again led Florida down the field as he scored what would be the game-winner. Richardson entered the game with a lot of draft hype as he is being projected as a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He did nothing to hurt his draft stock against the Utes.
2. Utah still has a slim chance to reach College Football Playoff
Despite the difficult loss, the Utes still have a chance to make the College Football Playoff. Of course, Utah will now need to run the table from here on out for that to happen.
The Utes had a respectful showing against the Gators on the road in Gainesville, which is more than you can say about another Pac-12 team (more on that later). Last year, the Utes began the season 1-2 after losses to BYU and San Diego State and still managed to win the Pac-12 and go on to play in the Rose Bowl.
There's a lot of transition in the Pac-12 this season with new head coaches at USC, Oregon and Washington. Utah certainly has the talent and the schedule to win out and to go 12-1. A matchup that looms large is at home against the aforementioned Trojans on Oct. 15.
3. Rough day for Pac-12
The Pac-12 had two marquee matchups on Saturday, and both Utah and Oregon came up short. At least the Utes didn't get flat-out embarrassed like the Ducks did.
Sure, Georgia is the defending national champion and the Bulldogs will be a contender again in 2022. But it looked like Oregon wasn't even prepared for the game and was highly overrated at No. 11.
Yesterday did nothing to change the perception about the Pac-12. USC could emerge under new head coach Lincoln Riley, but the Trojans first have to beat Utah. Regardless, it appears that the Pac-12 has a long way to reach the national respectability of even the Big 12 or ACC, let alone the SEC or Big Ten.