Utah-Florida, the rematch, might not have been an enjoyable experience for the Gators, but it certainly captivated TV viewers.

The Thursday night game peaked with 3.8 million viewers and, with an average of 3.2 million viewers, it became ESPN’s most-watched Thursday night college football opener since 2017. The Orlando Sentinel’s Matt Murschel shared the news.

Utah won the game 24-11 on the strength of its defense. The 14th-ranked Utes held Florida to just 60 rushing yards (adjusted for sacks) and recorded five sacks on the evening.

Despite missing their top two interior defensive linemen (all-conference selections Junior Tafuna and Simote Pepa) and their top defensive end (Connor O’Toole), the Utes limited the Gators to just 132 yards of offense and three points in the opening half.

With a backup quarterback Utah took control of the game early and Florida had to abandon the run to try and catch up.

A late, fourth-quarter touchdown from Florida followed by a questionable field goal attempt near midfield made for some potential drama near the end. But, when Florida took over down 13 with 5:59 to play, it embarked on a drive that bled 4:20 off the game clock and ended with a turnover on downs.

The Utah-Florida game went head-to-head with Minnesota-Nebraska in the 5 p.m. PT slot.

It also set a new attendance record at Rice-Eccles Stadium, with 53,644 fans on hand for the victory.