This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Pasadena, Calif. • It's official.
Utah will be hosting College GameDay, ESPN's heralded college football preview show, ahead of its scheduled bout with No. 5 Washington next Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The buzz that the show would be pulling into President's Circle had already started to build before Utah's kickoff against UCLA. Utah athletic director Chris Hill said he had gotten a call from the Pac-12 offices to be ready if Utah prevailed.
Shortly after the Utes notched a 52-45 win over the Bruins, the College GameDay Twitter account announced: "Salt Lake City, you're next! We're headed to Washington-Utah for Week 9."
The Utes are happy to welcome the spotlight of the nation.
"That'd be great," coach Kyle Whittingham said, shortly before the selection became official. "It's great exposure for our program, and we've got a very difficult game coming up this week."
The game is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff on Fox Sports 1.
The Utes have hosted GameDay three times in the last 12 years: in 2004 in a win over BYU, in 2010 in a loss to TCU, and last year in a win over Cal. The show comes with it own pageantry and pomp: At the game last year, the Utes were picked to beat the Golden Bears, with John Stockton as the guest picker. Lee Corso donned mascot Swoop's head while making his pick in front of a crowd of thousands of sign-waving fans.
Hill estimated the show cost the university about $40,000 to put on last year, but added that the cost and logistical scrambling is well worth the exposure.
Butler-Byrd takes one back
Utah spotted itself a 7-0 lead on the first play of the game with senior receiver Cory Butler-Byrd returned a kick 99 yards for a touchdown.
It was Utah's first kick return touchdown since 2015, when Butler-Byrd did it against Fresno State.
UCLA coach Jim Mora said the kick was meant to go deep left, which it didn't, giving Butler-Byrd an opportunity to show his speed.
"Cory, he does stuff like that all the time he's a playmaker," quarterback Troy Williams said. "I knew he'd pop one sooner or later. I guess it's only right he'd do it in his hometown."
Are the Utes maybe getting healthier? The answer is "yes" at some positions: Freshman running back Zack Moss saw his first game action since Cal, with four rushes for 8 yards, while senior receiver Tim Patrick was thrown to.
Others were absent, as expected. Safety Marcus Williams, linebacker Sunia Tauteoli, center Lo Falemaka and tight end Harrison Handley didn't travel with the team. Running back Troy McCormick suited up but did not play.
"As a whole, we're decimated, but you can't worry about that," Whittingham said. "We're just trying to get some guys back. … We're just seeing who we can get back. Hopefully we'll get a couple more this week."