SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah Utes are set to face off against the Brigham Young University Cougars this weekend and for the 93rd time since the 1922 season, adding another game to the Utah–BYU rivalry.
Game of the week
The Utes head into the game leading the PAC-12 South, going 8-3 overall and riding a two-game win streak following the loss of quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss. While BYU has failed to find their footing for the second straight year, entering the game 6-5 overall, mainly due to injuries and offensive coordinator rotations.
Both teams are playing well defensively, though. The Utes have the 16th best-ranked defense in the nation, allowing only 18.5 Pts/G while the Cougars are keeping teams to 20.5 Pts/G. A majority of the struggles plaguing both teams are the inconsistencies on the offensive end.
The quarterback play has been erratic for the Utes ever since Huntley went down with a broken collarbone against Arizona State when he collided with defensive back Demonte King late in the third quarter. The same can be said for the Cougars as Zach Wilson replaced Tanner Mangum in mid-October.
The Cougars come into Rice Eccles stadium not having won against the Utes since Nov. 28th, 2009, which has only added fuel to the fire even further.
On a recent episode of the KSL Newsradio hosted podcast, ‘Rivals’, former University of Utah quarterback Scott Mitchell and former BYU defensive lineman Jason Buck analyze the Utah–BYU rivalry and what it does for the sport.
Breaking down the Utah–BYU rivalry with ‘Rivals’
“I think rivalries are the best part of college football,” Scott Mitchell said. “I don’t know that we do enough even in college and I think that we could do a better job actually in celebrating them.”
Nothing compares to the overall success a rivalry as the recency of said teams. In today’s era of social media, there is no better time than now for a football program to perform on a national scale and create the drama and tension that is required for a full-blown rivalry.
But even then, Mitchell believes that other factors need to be taken into consideration.
“I think people look at the recency of things…So right now in the Utah, BYU rivalry, if you’re on the Utah side of things, you’re like, rest your players, this game doesn’t matter. It’s not really a rivalry, we’re not even in the same conference,” Mitchell said.
But according to Jason Buck, one of the biggest issues with the Utah–BYU rivalry is that BYU is an independent school, therefore forfeiting the school’s affiliation with the NCAA conference.
“As an independent, BYU has virtually no rivalry with anybody in the United States of America,” Buck said. “That is a fact. They’ve got a little bit of a rivalry with Utah State, a little bit of a rivalry with Utah, not Boise State.”
He was quick to note that when you’re successful on the field, the rivalries have the ability to flourish and excel due to the fact that everyone wants to beat you.
“Back in the day when we dominated…we looked at Air Force but everybody wanted to beat BYU because we were on top,” Buck said. “And every time we rolled into Wyoming or New Mexico, or they came to our place, the stands were sold out and the crowds were going crazy because they wanted to beat BYU so bad.”
BYU has struggled in recent years, paving the way for the University of Utah to turn the tides and Mitchell believes that the Cougars should start to reconsider how to approach the rivalry game itself.
“BYU is just fighting to get relevance and bowl eligible and having a winning season. Beating their rival Utah, those are like benchmarks. Those are like big deals, those are the kinds of things that they can really grasp onto now,” Mitchell said.
What makes rivalries great though is the ebb and flows throughout history and is a necessity to being able to start the groundwork for a rivalry says Mitchell, “You have to look at this as the totality of the whole rivalry and how it’s kind of gone back and forth through the ages. And I think people need to see the great tradition of all this and celebrating and bringing awareness to those traditions.”
Buck also added that “You’ve got to have a conference buddy and you’ve got to nurture those rivalries. Build the game and build those rivalries.”
To hear more from Scott Mitchell and Jason Buck, you can download the entire episode from the ‘Rivals’ podcast at staging.kslnewsradio.com.
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