Rivalries are part of what makes college football so great. The sport has plenty of them, but the best ones have magnificent names attached to the actual games. The rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan is so big it’s referred to simply as “The Game.” Alabama and Auburn have The Iron Bowl, and there is (unofficially) The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party between Florida and Georgia.
But the rivalry with the coolest name takes place in Utah. That’s where they play The Holy War, and this week’s edition between BYU and No. 21 Utah will be played in one of the most picturesque settings in college football: LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah.
This truly is one of the best rivalries in the sport, even if it doesn’t carry the same weight nationally as the others I mentioned. It has everything in it that makes a rivalry great. These are two proud schools with rich football traditions that happen to be separated by roughly an hour’s drive in either direction. While they aren’t in the same conference anymore, they were for a long time, and the religious aspect behind the name adds another layer.
It’s a magnificent game, and it’s a perfect way to finish up your college football Saturday.
BYU vs. Utah: Need to know
Utah has won nine straight in the series: The rivalry has always been fierce, but it’s also been incredibly streaky. Utah holds the all-time edge on the Cougars with a mark of 59-31-4, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. From 1922 to 1964, Utah won 35 of the game’s 40 meetings. BYU only won once (a 12-7 win in 1942) in that period and tied four other times. But then BYU took over the series, winning 19 of 21 meetings from 1972 to 1992. Utah has gotten the best of the Cougars since and come into Saturday’s meeting the winner of nine straight, including the last four meetings in Provo.
There is a lot of familiarity: It’s another aspect of this rivalry that makes it so great. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has been at Utah as either the head coach or an assistant every season since 1994, but he went to school and played linebacker at BYU. His first two years on the sideline as a coach were at BYU, too. Then there’s BYU coach Kilani Sitake, who played fullback at BYU. Whittingham and Sitake have a lot in common, and perhaps that’s what drew them together when Sitake spent 10 seasons as an assistant at Utah under Whittingham, including the final three seasons as the assistant head coach. If that’s not enough, three other members on Sitake’s staff at BYU have coached at Utah.
BYU has a lot to replace: The Cougars had an incredible 2020 season, going 11-1 while beating UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl. If you watched BYU last year, though, it’s going to look a lot different this week. The biggest difference is that Zach Wilson is no longer around. He’s busy as the starting QB of the New York Jets after being taken with the second pick of the NFL Draft. Last year’s offensive coordinator, Jeff Grimes, is gone as well after taking the same position at Baylor. So don’t be surprised if the Cougars don’t look as explosive as they did throughout last season.
How to watch BYU vs. Utah live
Date: Saturday, September 11 | Time: 10:15 p.m. ET
Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium — Provo, Utah
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
BYU vs. Utah prediction, picks
Featured Game | BYU Cougars vs. Utah Utes
I’m not in love with the pick, but it’s hard to go against the Utes considering how dominant they’ve been in the series of late. Plus, as mentioned before, this is not the same Cougars team that went 11-1 last season. Some of those results were inflated thanks to a more manageable schedule than BYU typically plays (forced by the pandemic) and some of it is due to everything BYU lost. Right now, I have a higher level of confidence in the Utes, so that’s where I’d put my money. Prediction: Utah (-7.5)
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