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2023 schedule set: Utes open season with Florida, UCLA as Pac-12 opener


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SALT LAKE CITY β€” The season-opening rematch game is set ... and so are the rest of the games.

As Utah football looks ahead to the 2023 season, the schedule for the new year was released on Wednesday by the Pac-12. The opponent for the season opener was known β€” a western trip to Salt Lake City for the SEC's Florida β€” but the game's date hadn't been finalized.

And the wait remains for the season opener. The Utes were originally scheduled to host the Gators at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2, but the contract signed between the two universities allowed for that game to be moved to the Thursday before on Aug. 31. That wait continues.

If that game is officially slated for Thursday, it will give the Utes two extra days to prepare for a road trip to Baylor the following weekend. The game would follow the standard season-opener for Utah but would be the first time Florida has played a Thursday night game since 1992.

Utah's matchup against Baylor the week after on Sept. 9 will take place in Waco, Texas, and is the first-ever meeting between the two Power Five programs. It's also the first time Utah has played two Power Five programs in nonconference play in the Pac-12 era and the first since 2010 when the Utes played Pitt, Iowa State, and Notre Dame as a member of the Mountain West.

The Utes close out nonconference play at home on Sept. 16 in a matchup with in-state FCS opponent Weber State, who will be in its first season without former Utah special teams coordinator Jay Hill as its head coach.

And if the nonconference slate wasn't difficult enough for the two-time reigning Pac-12 champions, the conference slate, which features some of the top quarterbacks in the country, will be a gauntlet in 2023.

It gets no easier in Week 4 as Utah opens up conference play at home against a UCLA team that will make its last appearance to Rice-Eccles Stadium as a member of the Pac-12. The Bruins will come to Utah with a new starting quarterback after Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed his final season with the program.

Utah will then travel to a tough Oregon State team in Corvallis, Oregon, on Friday, Sept. 29, and will feature Clemson transfer quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and a defense that continues to rival Utah in the Pac-12. The physical matchup will test Utah, but the program will get a bye the week after before finishing the final seven games of conference play.

In October, Utah will welcome California back to its schedule on Oct. 14 before traveling to Southern California to take on the reigning Heisman winner in Caleb Williams and USC at the LA Memorial Coliseum for the final time on Oct. 21. That meeting will be followed by a home contest against Oregon on Oct. 28 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

That back-to-back meeting between two of the top programs will make October a tough stretch for the Utes trying to make its third straight Pac-12 title game appearance.

Utah will closeout the season with a home game against Arizona State on Nov. 4, followed by a road trip to Seattle, Washington, to take on Michael Penix Jr. and a Washington team that was arguably the best program in the Pac-12 at the end of the 2022 season.

The Utes will follow that up with another road trip to Arizona to take on a budding Wildcats program under head coach Jedd Fisch before welcoming Deion Sanders, who's comin', and his primetime Colorado program to Salt Lake City in the final game of the regular season.

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Josh is the Sports Director for KSL.com and beat writer of University of Utah athletics β€” primarily football, men’s basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.

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