The greatness of the BYU – Utah rivalry, part 4: the games

With the rivalry game only moments away, it’s time for the fourth and final installment of the greatness of this series.  Now that we’ve covered the quotes, the performances and the plays, this last installment is about the great games.  There have been so many games in this series that it’s hard to cover them all.

It will come to no surprise to you that some of the greatest games have already been mentioned in the first three parts.  That shouldn’t be a shock considering that great players and great plays generally come from great and important games.

There are different ways to judge what an important game is and what isn’t.  As a Cougar fan, I am clearly partial to games that BYU won and even if it was a blow out.  What can I say? Those games are more important in my eyes!  That is not how I will be judging the games that make this list however.

I fully understand that there have been plenty of meaningful games in this rivalry that the Utes won.  Am I happy to write about those games? Absolutely not! Is it painful to relive some of those heartbreaking moments?  There is no question about that.  But since this rivalry hasn’t been one-sided in a long time, I won’t be either.  I know what is important even when it’s happening against me.

October 14th, 1922, is a day that all Ute and Cougar fans should have burned into their memories.  It was the first time that the two schools played each other when the school in Provo was known as Brigham Young University.  That was the first year that BYU had a real football team although some might disagree.  The Utes won that day by a score of 49-0 and would go on to become the RMC champions while the Cougars only won a single game.  In fact, BYU only scored ten points the entire season and was shut out in five of their seven games.  Even though it wasn’t a great start for BYU in the holy war, it was a start.

November 17th, 1928, was another land mark game between the Utes and the Cougars.  The reason being, it was the first time that BYU didn’t lose to Utah.  They didn’t win the game either, settling for a 0-0 tie.

October 10th, 1942, should be another date that all BYU fans need to remember.  After losing or tying each of the first 20 matchups in the series, the Cougars finally got a win over the Utes by the score of 12-7.  There are a few more reasons why the game had added importance.  It would be the last time the two schools would meet until 1946 because BYU didn’t field a team during WWII.  The other two reasons are that it cost Utah the outright conference title and was the Cougars only conference win.

October 12th, 1946, was the first time the two teams met since BYU began fielding a team again and would start a string of yearly games that lasted until today.  The Utes won that game 35-6 and go on to an 8-3 record while the Cougars finished at 5-4-1.

September 27th, 1958, was a milestone game for the Cougars as the beat the Utes for only the second time as Brigham Young University and the first since 1948, improving their record against Utah to 2-28-4.  BYU only scored 14 points that day but it was enough to come away with a seven point win.  It was also the only victory BYU had over the Utes as members of the Skyline conference.

The game on November 6th, 1965, was an important game for so many reasons.  The Cougars won the game 25-20 in their first victory over the Utes in Provo.  It also helped the Cougars win their first WAC championship. It also marked the start the first winning streak of BYU over Ute which they would extend to three games.

November 18th, 1972, was the game where the power in the rivalry began to shift with a 16-7 victory by BYU.  To that point, the Utes had absolutely dominated the series with a record of 38-5-4 against the Cougars.  That was before LaVell Edwards was named the head man at BYU and he fittingly started with a victory.

November 18th, 1978.  BYU was in the midst of a six game winning streak against the Utes which was the longest they had ever had to that point.  BYU would jump out to a 22-7 lead before the Utes came back to score two fourth quarter touchdowns to secure a 23-22 victory.  If not for that great comeback, the Utes would have had a 15 game losing streak to the Cougars.

November 7th, 1984.  BYU had started out the season 10-0 and headed to Utah with a number three ranking in the national polls.  The Utes entered the game having won three straight and looking to derail the Cougars.  In a hard-fought game, BYU was able to escape Salt Lake City with a ten point win and put them one step closer to their only National Championship.

November 19th, 1988.  Utah had lost to the Cougars in 15 of the last 16 meetings and no one expected anything differently on that day.  BYU entered the game with an 8-2 record while the Utes had just reached .500.  The game didn’t play out at all like expected as the Utah ran BYU off the field scoring a school series record 57 points in a 29 point victory.

November 18th, 1989.  BYU was seeking payback for their embarrassing loss to the Utes a season before and there is no question that they got what they were looking for.  BYU had no problem with the University of Utah on that day, amassing 750 yards of offense on their way to a 70-31 victory.  Shockingly, it took a few late touchdowns by the Utes to make the score that close.

November 20th, 1993.  The game was tied at 31 with almost no time remaining when Utah kicker Chris Yergensen lined up and drilled a 55 yarder for a 34-31 victory and the one of the best finishes in a Utah Victory.

November 19th, 1994.  The Utes and the Cougars entered the contest with only two losses each and top 25 rankings.  BYU had a four point lead late when Charlie Brown caught a touchdown pass to make the score 34-31.  Even though the Utes would miss a conference championship by one game, they went on to win their first bowl game in 30 years in their next game.

November 24th, 2000.  In the final game of LaVell Edwards’s coaching career the Cougars overcame a late deficit on the hill to beat the Utes 34-27 and send LaVell off as a winner.  Even though there wasn’t anything on the line other than bragging rights, most fans still consider this one of the top 10 rivalry games ever played.

November 17th, 2001.  In Gary Crowton’s first rivalry game the as the Cougars head man, BYU trailed late  when Luke Staley took a pitch and burst down the sideline and into the end zone to give the Cougars a 24-21 win and an undefeated record.

November 22nd, 2003.  In what is quite possibly the worst football game I have ever been to, the Utes beat BYU in Provo by a score of 3-0 ending the Cougars all time record streak of scoring in games.  The win also propelled the Utes to a Mountain West Championship and a top 25 ranking.

November 20th, 2004.  The Utes entered the game undefeated record and a top five ranking and was looking for a chance to become the first school to crack the BCS.  The Utes outplayed BYU in every aspect of the game and walked away with 52-21 win and a MWC championship. The Utes would go on to roll the Pitt Panthers in the Fiesta Bowl as they became the first non-automatic qualifying school to make a BCS game.

November 25th, 2006.  The game is remembered for a bunch of lead changes and a Jonny Harline touchdown reception with no time left as BYU beat Utah for the first time in four years 33-31. The game is considered the best win by most Cougar fans in the series.

November 22nd, 2008.  BYU entered the game ranked 16th in the nation while the Utes came in undefeated and ranked 8th.  After a back and forth beginning the Utes took control on the strength of five interceptions and rolled the Cougars.  The game propelled the Utes to an undefeated season and a Sugar bowl matchup with Alabama which they also dominated for their second undefeated season in four years and the schools highest ranking ever.

November 21st, 2013.  Tonight’s game is the end of an era and should not be forgotten no matter how it plays out.  This is one of the biggest rivalries in college football and has left an everlasting legacy that I won’t soon forget.


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