The best moments from the BYU-Utah rivalry, part 3: The games

With the return of the rivalry in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl only days away, we have just enough time to revisit the most memorable moments between these bitter foes. In this three-part series we relive the best quotes, players, and the games that show this matchup is one of the best in the college game.

Part 3: The games

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

The game that started it all?

Oct. 14, 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 rivalry, it was a start.

A tie is a win

Nov. 17, 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.

The Cougars finally get a win

Oct. 10, 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.

The rivalry returns

Oct. 12, 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 68 years.  The Utes won the game 35-6 and went on to an 8-3 record while the Cougars finished at 5-4-1.

One win in the Skyline

Sept. 271958, 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.

Finally a home win

The game on Nov. 6, 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.

The power shift

Nov. 18, 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.

Henry for the win

Nov. 18, 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, including a Frank Henry reception from Randy Gomez with 2;13 remaining to secure a 23-22 victory.

A run to a title

Nov. 7, 1984.  BYU had started out the season 10-0 and headed to Utah with a No. 3 ranking in the national polls.  The Utes entered the game having won three straight on the season 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.

The end of the run

Nov. 19, 1988.  Utah had lost to the Cougars in 15 of the last 16 meetings and no one expected anything different 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.


Nov. 181989.  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.

What a kick

Nov. 20, 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.

34-31 again

Nov. 19, 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.

LaVell goes out a winner

Nov. 24, 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.

Fourth-quarter comeback

Nov. 17, 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.

The streak ends

Nov. 22, 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.

BCS busters

November 20, 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.

Harline is still open

Nov. 25, 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.

Undefeated once more

Nov. 22, 2008.  BYU entered the game ranked No. 16 in the nation while the Utes came in undefeated and ranked No. 8.  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.



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