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Florida rises under Billy Napier, No. 7 Utah continues Pac-12's confounding slump

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Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of The Swamp, there had to be room for sympathy. No. 7 Utah’s final 29-26 loss to unranked Florida on Saturday night was more than just a heartbreak, it was close to football torture.

It’s benevolent to say that college football is doing well with the Pac-12 these days. When I wasn’t losing a team, I was just losing the first week. In the first real Saturday of the season, it happened twice in different, painful ways.

The Gators appear to have found a new quarterback (Anthony Richardson) and coach (Billy Napier) for a new era in their turmoil over the Utes, but the Pac-12 will be irrelevant early Saturday I spent my time finding new ways.

We already know that guts were surgically removed from this summer’s Conference of Champions when USC and UCLA decided to move to the Big Ten two years later. His two best teams remaining then lost to SEC opponents within hours, potentially ruling the Pac-12 out of the college football playoff race before Labor Day.

No. 3 Georgia thumped No. 11 Oregon in former defensive coordinator Dan Lanning’s debut for the Ducks on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta. The Bulldogs earned his 49-3 win on his seven possessions in the first. Utah then lost with 17 seconds left before fifth-year Florida linebacker Amari Burney intercepted Cameron Rising in the end zone and the game went online.

Utah is a rising powerhouse, and it took something like a win at The Swamp to earn a reputation on the streets. Last season, they lost a similarly close game to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. The closeness isn’t good enough, especially under Kyle Whittingham in 18th year.

Give this to Pac-12. This recession was not only long, but also creative. Saturday’s result puts the Pac-12 1-8 against his SEC team in the season opener of the past 11 years. The Pac-12 team ranked him seven of these eight losses.

The league has gone seven years without a team in the College Football Playoffs. We already know that without the Los Angeles flagship program, the conference will never be the same if it remains a conference in the future.

Let’s go back to that commotion and that swamp. It revealed a story of two trajectories. Utah and its league were on a downward trend. Richardson, wearing Tim Tebow’s No. 15, delivered some magic, as he scored his career-high three rushing touchdowns and a thrilling fourth quarter. His 2 points escaped the pressure of his conversion and led the drive to victory. A native of Gainesville, Florida, Richardson got his first career start in the Swamps and has wheels (104 yards rushing) and arms (168 yards passing) that honor his No. 15.

Napier made Normal cool when the Gators desperately needed it. Dan Mullen’s crazy train gave way to an even-knee approach that was reflected in Florida’s comeback, the Gators trailing him four times to a team that was a legitimate playoff contender. Napier (and Richardson) then made all the right moves (and throws).

Remember when Napier wasn’t recruiting enough people in midsummer? He was torn for writing an open letter to fans that was actually made a month ago But it landed flat when the Gators were beaten on some promises.

Note to Recruitnics: All is well. In fact, that may be the team’s slogan right now. Napier “rebounded” on the Recruit Trail to push Florida into the top 10 class before the season started.The Gators continued to rebound in the Swamp, the only place they are now, and Napier became the first Florida coach to beat a ranked opponent in his first game on the program. Wait till we see what that I do it for recruitment.

With the all-time ranking to start the season as the reigning Pac-12 champions, Utah was at Florida’s 6-yard line, and the game (and presumably that season) was on the line. Rising stepped back and Bernie stepped back in coverage.

It wasn’t clear if anyone had opened at Rising, but it was clear that all was well this night, at least for Florida. The Gators could rank Kentucky next week after placing him 38th in total votes in the preseason AP Top 25.

Meanwhile, Yuuto takes a long plane ride home, not knowing what happened, what will happen next, or when the torture will end.