What if BYU and Utah played on the gridiron in 2014 and the Utes won

Since the Utes left the Mountain West Conference after the 2010 season for the Pac-12, BYU and Utah have played the rivalry game during the middle of September.  If they would have played this year, chances are this would be rivalry week for my favorite game in college football.  Since it is completely unacceptable that there is a two year hiatus before the bitter rivals face each other again I thought it would be fun to speculate on how the game would go if it were actually played.  There is no doubt that each fan base would have a different opinion on what would happen and who would win so we cover how the game might look if either school won.

Here is the Utah version of how the game might go.

In another classic edition of the rivalry, the Utah game plan to keep Taysom Hill in the pocket worked as good as anyone could have imagined as the Utes handed BYU another heart-breaking loss 34-31 on Saturday night.   Utah defensive ends Hunter Dimick and Nate Orchard were able to keep Hill from getting to the outside as he ended with just 43 yards on 12 carries. With little space to run, Hill showed that he was much improved in the passing game, but it was the Utah offense that had the last laugh as the Utes escaped with the win to improve to 3-0 on the season.

The Utah offense got it going on the opening drive when Travis Wilson completed his second pass of the game to Dres Anderson for a 38-yard gain to the BYU 35-yard line.  Three plays later, Devontae Booker found his way to the end zone on a run from 12 yards out to put the Utes up 7-0.

BYU answered right back in the seesaw affair thanks to a big kick return from Adam Hine.  He took the ball eight yards deep in the end zone and used a huge burst of speed to elude the first Utah tacklers and before he found a seam and returned the ball to the Utah 28-yard line.  Jamaal Williams tied the game one play later when he found a hole off left tackle and took the ball 28 yards for the score.

After the teams traded punts to wind down the first quarter, the Utah running game took over.  It started with Bubba Poole who found a lane on the outside thanks to some great blocking from Kenneth Scott and took the ball 51 yards before BYU safety Craig Bills made a touchdown saving tackle.  It didn’t stop the Utes for long as Wilson found Booker out of the backfield just two plays later and he took it 10 yards for the score.

This time, BYU had no answer as Gionni Paul intercepted a pass intended for Devin Mahina and took it 22 yards for the 21-7 lead.  BYU wasnt down for long thanks to the speed of Devon Blackmon.  After a 38-yard kick return gave BYU solid field position, Hill found Blackmon on a wide receiver screen and he took the ball 62 yards to cut the lead to 21-14 just before halftime.

The Cougars tied the score on the first drive of the second half on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that took 4:32 off the clock.  On the drive, BYU used a balanced offense to pick apart the Utah defense before Hill capped off the drive with a touchdown lunge from two yards out.  The biggest play on the drive came on a third-and-seven when Hill found Jordan Leslie for a 25-yard reception deep in Utah Territory.

Kaelin Clay answered the bell in a big way and restored the Utah lead on the ensuing kickoff.  He returned the kick 89 yards on an electric run to score his third special teams touchdown of the season.

With the seven-point lead, the Utah defense came up with another big play when Eric Rowe intercepted a deep ball intended for Mitch Mathews at the 11-yard line.  Wilson and the Utah offense followed that up with a time-consuming 12-play, 68-yard drive before the BYU force a stop on a third down.  The Utah attempt to take a two score lead was foiled when Bronson Kaufusi blocked a 38-yard Andy Phillips field goal attempt.

The Cougars tied the game for the fourth time on their next drive thanks to a pair of big runs from Williams.  First, he found a lane after the offense line opened up a huge hole and got to the second level before he was touched on his way to a 31-yard gain.  He followed that up with a 44-yard touchdown run three plays later to even the score at 28-28.

One the next drive it was the BYU defense that made a big play to change the complexion of the game.  After the Utes marched 38 yards all on the ground, Cougar linebacker Alani Fua got to Wilson on a blitz and forced a fumble.  Cougar defensive back Jordan Johnson recovered the fumble to give BYU its first chance to take a lead.  Hill and the Cougars marched to the Utah 10-yard line before the Utes defense stiffened and BYU settled for a short field goal for their first lead of the game with just over two minutes remaining setting up one of the best finishes in rivalry history.

Wilson found Kenneth Scott on four straight plays through the air and Scott was able to find the sideline each time to put the Utes into BYU territory with :45 seconds left.  After back-to-back incompletions, Wilson found Dres Anderson over the middle, but he was unable to get out-of-bounds.  With the clock ticking down and unable to call a timeout, Wilson got the snap with only seconds remaining and found Westlee Tonga as time expired at the back of the end zone for the game winning score.

On the night, Wilson completed 28-of-37 passes for 288 yards and one touchdown to go along with nine carries for 70 yards on the ground.  Poole finished the night with  75 yards on the ground and 28 through the air, while Booker added 102 combined yards and a pair of scores.  Anderson led the way in the receiving games with seven catches for 94 yards.  Scott also had a big night with nine grabs for 89 yards.

For the Cougars, Hill completed 32-of-42 passes for 311 yards one touchdown and two interceptions.  His favorite weapon on the night was Leslie who secure 14 catches for 132 yards.  The star for BYU in the losing effort was Williams who put up 195 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries.

Up next for the Utes is a visit from 1-2 Washington State who is coming off a win over Portland State.





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