SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – ESPN’s popular pregame show GameDay has become back to the University of Utah for the first time since 2016 for tomorrow’s huge Pac-12 showdown between #13 Utah and #8 Oregon.
“This is a gargantuan game,” said ESPN host Reece Davis.
Hundreds of Utah fans are expected to show up bright and early Saturday morning for the 7-11 a.m. show, just like they did the four other times they show has been here.
“They’re passionate, they love their school, they’re into the show and into football,” Davis said. “That’s always a big plus for us coming here.”
“We draw our energy from the fans,” said ESPN analyst and former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard. “I assume it’s going to be pretty dark when we start, rather chilly, but they’re going to warm us up. This is one of those programs that I personally like just because I like Kyle Whittingham. I like his style.”
Whittingham rode up to the ESPN set today at President’s Circle on a motorcycle. What other 63-year old head coach would do that? Whittingham will be one of several special guests including the celebrity guest picker, former Utes legend Steve Smith.
“Kyle is going to be on the show,” said Davis. “Cam Rising is going to be on the show. There are going to be a couple things that are going to happen on the show that I’m going to hold back that in the entire history of GameDay. No one can every remember happening, but they will tomorrow.”
The GameDay crew will no doubt discuss just how many injuries the Utes have overcome to get to 6-1 on the year, especially at quarterback, where Bryson Barnes has taken over for Cam Rising.
“It’s kind of surprising because Cam Rising is Cam Rising,” Howard said. “He’s a gritty, gut it out type of player. But that’s who they recruit here, and Barnes is that guy.”
“I really respect what they’ve accomplished and the way they go about their business,” added Davis. “The adversity they’ve overcome with all of the injuries, which I don’t know that I’ve ever seen, the number of injuries to key playrers.”
Then of course there’s perhaps the best story on the team, two-way player Sione Vaki. Is he going to be a Heisman contender like Desmond Howard was?
“He has an opportunity,” said Howard, who won the Heisman in 1991. “He’s coming from behind, let’s keep it 100. He’s coming way from behind, but if he’s able to some things, maybe he’ll get an invite. A lot of eyes will be on him tomorrow, baby. If you’re going to do something, do it tomorrow.”
GameDay will run from 7:00 to 10:00 a.m. Saturday with the game between Utah and Oregon kicking off at 1:30 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.