Michael Brandy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — ESPN's Chris Fowler said Utah did well the second time around with "College Football GameDay."
The popular pregame show returned to Rice-Eccles Stadium for the first time since 2004. A University of Utah official estimated a crowd of 10,000 attended the three-hour broadcast, which began at 7 a.m.
"Utah fared great. We have high expectations here. We knew people would be pumped up for the game," Fowler said. "It's been six years since we've been here so we knew they were ready. I got all kinds of messages all week bracing for what to prepare and it did not disappoint."
Some fans camped out overnight for the show. The first arrived Friday morning at 5:30 to set up tents near the stadium's ticket office.
"It's always nice when you come out here," Fowler continued. "The sun isn't even up yet. It's pitch black and yet people are fired up, especially the students that made the commitment to camp out on the concrete and show up early. We're very flattered."
Fowler was joined on the set by regulars Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Erin Andrews. At show's end, Herbstreit, Howard and Corso gave their predictions on the big game between Utah and TCU later in the day.
Howard went first and began his comments by referencing Utah's 21-game winning streak at home.
"All good streaks must come to an end," Howard said. "And I've got the Horned Frogs to win in Utah."
The crowd booed, as they did with every uttering of TCU during the show.
Herbstreit was next. He talked about a lasting impression he had of TCU's 55-28 win over Utah last year in Fort Worth.
Then came a twist.
"I don't know. There's something about the MUSS and Utah playing at home," Herbstreit said. "I'm taking Utah."
The cheers that erupted turned to jeers when Corso's turn arrived.
"This place is almost as nice as Provo," he said before donning the mascot head of the Horned Frogs — signifying his prediction.
It capped an enthusiastic gathering that included crowd chants that Boise State was "overrated" and sounds of discontent whenever Alabama or TCU was mentioned.
Clever fan-made signs dotted the landscape. They included: "TC Who?," "Hi Mom. Max Hall still hates me" and a picture of Barney the dinosaur with "Guess who else wears purple?"
For Fowler and the "GameDay" crew, it was all just part of the act.
"What we see every week is a bunch of people who are pumped up because the game is big and we feel the same way," Fowler said. "We know they're not here necessarily to watch a TV show, they're here to show what the Utah spirit is about and that this is a great place to be on a game day.
"That's what we reflect every week behind us and I think they rose to the occasion," he added while noting that it's a test of stamina to stick it out for hours while several other games are also discussed on the show. "They did a great job."
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