With the return of the rivalry in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl less than a week away, we have just enough time to revisit the most memorable moments between these bitter foes. In this four-part series we relive the best quotes, players, the plays and the games that show was this matchup is one of the best in the college game.
Part 2: The players
There are impact players in every football game, and the rivalry games between the Utes and the Cougars have had more than most. Players have stepped up with big performances almost every year to carry their team to a victory (or at least give them a chance).
This is the list of the best-of-the-best of those outings. The ones that fans of both schools won’t easily forget.
Kent Oborn, BYU, 1966
Oborn had a huge day on offense and special teams as the Cougars beat the Utes 35-13. He had three first-half touchdowns, including a 22-yard reception, an 11-yard reception and a 74-yard punt return.
David Smith, Utah, 1969
In a game that Utah dominated on the ground, Smith did most of the work. He carried the ball 27 times for 154 as the Utes knocked off the Cougars 16-6. He also caught a game-high three passes for 16 yards.
David Walker, Utah, 1970
On a day where the Utah offense couldn’t find the end zone, Walker scored on defense and special teams to carry the Utes to a 14-13 win. He had 46-yard interception return for a touchdown and an 85-yard punt return for another score. To top it off, he added nine tackles.
Pete Van Valkenburg, BYU, 1972
During a game where neither team could get much going in the passing game, Van Valkenburg carried the load as the Cougars beat the Utes 16-7. He finished the day with 37 rushes for 158 yards.
Gary Sheide, BYU, 1973
Sheide had a field day against the Utah secondary as the Cougars rolled 46-22. He completed 23 of 35 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns, including four in the first half as BYU jumped out to a 30-0 lead.
Gifford Nielsen, BYU, 1976
Nielsen had a big game as the Cougars dispatched the Utes 34-12. He completed 25 of 35 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns to go along with a 6-yard touchdown run.
Marc Wilson, BYU, 1977
Wilson set the NCAA record for passing yards in a game as the Cougars crushed the Utes 38-8. He completed 26 of 41 passes for 571 yards and five touchdowns.
Randy Gomez, Utah, 1978
Gomez had a game to remember as the Utes came from behind to stun the Cougars 23-22. He completed 20 of 31 passes for 265 yards and three scores, including a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes to give the Utes the win.
Clay Brown, BYU, 1980
In a game dominated by the BYU offense, Brown had the day of days. He caught five passes for 184 yards, including touchdown receptions of 5 and 76 yards.
A pair of other Cougars also had big showings. Jim McMahon added 399 yards passing and three touchdowns while Eric Lane 130 yards and three scores on the ground and in the passing game.
Gordon Hudson, BYU, 1981
Hudson had a legendary performance as the Cougars beat the Utes 56-28. He caught 13 passes for 259 yards, including touchdowns of 8 and 37 yards.
Jim McMahon added 565 yards passing and four touchdowns, while Utah running back Del Rodgers carried the load with 14 carries for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
Steve Young, BYU, 1983
Young had an amazing passing day as the Cougars beat the Utes 55-7. He completed 22 of 25 passes for 268 yards and six touchdowns.
Glen Kozlowski, BYU, 1984
Kozlowski had a great showing as the Cougars kept their undefeated season alive with a 24-14 win. He caught eight passes for 162 yards and a touchdown.
Lakei Heimuli, BYU, 1985
Heimuli had a big day on the ground as the Cougars beat the Utes 38-28. He carried the ball 23 times for 164 yards, including touchdowns of 3,4 and 83 yards. He added five catches for another 39 yards.
Lakei Heimuli, BYU, 1986
Heimuli had another big game against the Utes as the Cougars won 35-21. He carried the ball 33 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns while catching four passes for 44 yards.
BYU ball carriers Bruce Hansen and Robert Parker also had big days. Hansen had 24 carries for 149 yards and a touchdown while Parker added 121 yards and two scores on 12 carries.
Eddie Johnson, Utah, 1988
Johnson had a big game on the ground and as a receiver as the Utes beat up the Cougars 57-28. He carried the ball 26 times for 112 yards and four touchdowns while catching two passes for 91 yards.
Utah quarterback Scott Mitchell also put up big numbers with 384 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Ty Detmer, BYU, 1989
Detmer had a huge first half as the Cougars got revenge from the year before with a 70-31 blow out win over Utah. He completed 18 of 22 passes for 358 yards and four touchdowns.
He was the only Cougar who had a monster day for the BYU offense. Chris Smith added six catches for 194 yards and a touchdown while Stacey Corley finished with 159 yards rushing and a touchdown on just 14 carries.
Ty Detmer, BYU, 1990
Detmer came to play for the second year in a row as the Cougars eat the Utes 45-22. He completed 28 of 50 passes for 451 yards and five touchdowns.
Eric Drage, BYU, 1991
Drage had a huge receiving day as the Cougars scored the last 34 points of the game to beat the Utes 48-17. He caught six passes for 188 yards, including touchdowns of 97, 33 and 18 yards.
Ty Detmer added 378 yards passing and five touchdowns, while Utah receiver Bryan Rowley caught five passes for 121 yards and two first half touchdowns.
Mike McCoy, Utah, 1993
McCoy had the biggest passing day by a Utah quarterback in rivalry history as the Utes best the Cougars 34-31. He completed 29 of 47 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns.
Utah running back Jamal Anderson also had a big day with 32 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown with 21 yards receiving and another score.
Brian McKenzie, Ronney Jenkins, BYU, 1996
The BYU running backs owned the day as the Cougars ran all over the Utes 37-17. McKenzie carried the ball 23 times for 176 yards and a touchdown, while Jenkins added 29 carries for 156 yards and three touchdowns.
Luke Staley, BYU, 2001
Staley found the end zone on the ground and in the receiving game as the Cougars came from behind to beat the Utes 24-221. He carried the ball 17 times for 169 yards and a touchdown to go along with three catches for 28 yards and another score.
Brandon Warfield, Utah, 2002
Along with scoring the only touchdown of the entire game, Brandon Warfield had a masterful performance as the Utes beat the Cougars 13-6. He carried the ball 40 times for 194 yards and a score while adding two catches for 22 yards.
Brett Ratliff, Utah, 2005
Ratliff had a huge game with his arm and his legs as the Utes beat the Cougars 41-34. He completed 17 of 32 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winning 25-yard touchdown to Travis LaTendresse in overtime. He added 19 carries for 112 yards and another score.
BYU running back Curtis Brown also had a big game even though the Cougars lost. He carried the ball 20 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns and caught seven passes for 84 yards.
John Beck, Jonny Harline, BYU, 2006
Fans from both sides will remember Beck to Harline, and for good reason. While combining for the game winning score, both put up huge numbers in the Cougars’ 33-31 come from behind victory. Beck completed 28 of 43 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns, while Harline added seven catches for 118 yards and three scores.
John White IV, Utah, 2011
After a slow first half, White got it going as the Utes hammered the Cougars 54-10. He carried the ball 22 times for 174 yards, including second-half touchdown runs of 1, 62 and 35 yards.