Utah dominated Florida en route to a 24-11 victory over the Gators in the teams’ season opener Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Here’s what you need to know:
- Utes quarterback Bryson Barnes, who started in place of Cam Rising during his ACL rehab, got off to a hot start by hitting Money Parks for a 70-yard touchdown on Utah’s first play of the game.
- Barnes went on to complete 12 of 18 passes for 159 yards and a 5-yard rushing TD.
- Freshman QB Nate Johnson also got in on the action, rushing 27 yards to the end zone with 7:50 left in the first half.
- Utah’s defense sacked Florida QB Graham Mertz five times.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Who is Bryson Barnes?
A former walk-on who has stepped in each of the last two Rose Bowl appearances after Rising left injured in both, Barnes was the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart during fall camp, but freshman Brandon Rose suffered an unspecified injury in a scrimmage which has left him out indefinitely.
Barnes is the most decorated high school quarterback in Utah high school football history, owning several all-time records. He grew up in the rural town of Milford, Utah, in the southwest portion of the state where he used to work on a pig farm with over 12,000 pigs. The Athletic visited Barnes’ hometown in April 2022 after Barnes came in and threw a game-tying touchdown pass in the final minutes of the epic Rose Bowl game between Ohio State and Utah in 2022. — Kamrani
Highlight of the game
A 70-yard touchdown pass to begin the game for Utah 😱
What a start for the Utes.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 1, 2023
(Photo: Jeff Swinger / USA Today)