The rivalry between BYU and Utah is known for a lot of things. There have been great coaching matchups, close games and even plenty of trash talk. But none of it would make a difference if players didn’t step up on the field and make the games into the classics that many of them have turned out to be. And believe me, there is no shortage of players who have come up big when needed the most.
Here is a look at the best-of-the-best of those players on the defense and in special teams — the guys who stepped up in the biggest spots and had the best performances in one of the most heated and entertaining rivalries in college football.
Note: These teams are based solely on what the players did in the rivalry games that they played in. No other parts of their careers were taken into account.
Lenny Gomes, BYU (1989, 1991-93)
Gomes had some really impressive performances as the Cougars won three of four. His best outing came in 1991 when he registered six tackles, a tackle for loss and a pair of interceptions in a 31-point win.
Trevor Reilly, Utah (2010-13)
The hybrid defensive lineman/linebacker had a huge impact in three Utah wins during his time on the hill. His best performance came in 2011 as he totaled three tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, two sacks, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup as the Utes hammered BYU 54-10.
Garrett Smith, Utah (1999-2002)
Smith lived in the BYU backfield during his four games against the Cougars. He registered 6.5 tackles for loss and a sack, including two tackles for loss in each of his first three rivalry games.
Paul Kruger, Utah (2007-08)
Kruger had a huge impact for the Utes in 2008 as he came up with six tackles, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and an interception as Utah pushed past the Cougars to stay undefeated.
Star Lotulelei, Utah (2010-12)
Lotulelei was a disruptive force against the Cougars in 2012 as he came up with seven tackles, two pass breakups, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble as the Utes held on to beat the Cougars 24-21.
John Denney, BYU (2001-04)
Denney had a terrific performance in his last game against the Utes as he registered seven tackles, including three tackles for loss and a sack.
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