The Holy War showdown between BYU (1-1) and Utah (1-0) is one of the best college rivalries in the country. Throw out the records because the contest almost always comes down to the last play of the game.
That’s why it is not surprising to see that oddsmakers are having a tough time picking a winner as they go back and forth in favor of the Utes and Cougars. But can you blame them?
Eighteen of the past 23 games have been decided by a touchdown or less, including two overtimes. With the “Burton’s block”, “Harline is still open” “the fans are on the field” and Austin Collie’s “Magic Happens” moment, fans will no doubt see another classic moment between the two teams.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 9 | Time: 8:15 p.m. MT
Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium — Provo, Utah
TV: ESPN2 | Live stream: WatchESPN
Play-By-Play: Mike Patrick, Tommy Tuberville, Paul Carcaterra
Social Media: #UTAHvsBYU, #BYUvsUTAH
Notes: The over/under has moved from 49.5 to 46 and will likely sit at 45 before kickoff on Saturday. … Utah started out 3.5 favorites before oddsmakers had BYU favored by 1.5 on Monday and early Tuesday morning. However, as of Friday, Utah is now favored by 2.5. … Since BYU went Independent and with Utah joining the Pac-12 Conference, both teams — as the betting line currently stands —will have now been favored in three of the last six rivalry games.
What’s On The Line
BYU: The Cougar look to end the “Max Hall curse” and the Utes’ six-game rivalry winning streak on Saturday. Tanner Mangum looks to bounce back from a horrific game against LSU and lead the Cougars to their first victory over Utah since 2009.
A win would do wonder’s for the Cougars as they look to get their confidence back after lackluster performances in its first two games. BYU head coach Kalani Sitake even had to remind his team in the locker room that they had won in its home opener over Portland State. After Utah, the Cougars will continue their grueling September schedule as they face No. 9 Wisconsin followed by Utah State and Boise State.
Lastly, a win for either team certainly helps when it comes to in-state recruiting battles, however, BYU needs this win more than Utah does. While one win won’t largely sway recruits, winning six straight like Utah has definitely will and winning on Saturday can put the Cougars in position to put its own series winning streak together.
Utah: Utah has a chance to win its seventh consecutive game in the rivalry. The last time the Utes won seven straight against the Cougars was from 1951-57. Utah is 22-1 in non-conference games since joining the Pac-12, including a 16-0 non-conference record over the last four years. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham also looks to improve to 9-3 against his alma mater with a win Saturday.
The Pac-12 Conference went unbeaten last week, but faces a much bigger test in Week 2. Utah can help the conference earn more credibility from those that see the SEC, ACC and Big Ten as the top 3 conferences with the Big 12 and Pac-12 left to fight over the last college football playoff spot. With five conferences and just four playoff spots, Utah can really help itself and the conference with a win over BYU.
BYU: The Cougars secondary is going to get its biggest test so far this season as Utah comes in with arguably its best passing attack in years under new offensive coordinator Troy Taylor. The Utes are led by former Oregon standout receiver Darren Carrington II who made his debut last week with 10 catches for 127 yards and one touchdown.
LSU didn’t need to throw the ball as the Tigers racked up more than five yards per carry on the ground. While the Cougar defense gave up a lot of yards, they didn’t give up a lot of points as they held the Tigers to a number of field goals despite being on the field for nearly the entire game.
Utah: The battle of the trenches will likely determine the game as the Utes sent a number of standouts last year to the NFL. Can BYU take advantage? Utah’s offensive line looked average at best and allowed three sacks to North Dakota (FCS). The defensive line also took a big hit, but over the years, has made BYU one-dimensional as it has taken away the run game. If the Utes can make BYU one-dimensional again, they will likely walk out with their seventh consecutive win.
Prediction: Utah 20, BYU 17
It’s hard to pick against the Utes based on BYU’s sluggish performance this season and based on recent history in the Holy War. Also, Kyle Whittingham sure knows how to get his guys ready for the big game and until the Max Hall curse can be put to bed, it’s hard not to pick the Utes. With that being said, it will likely be another classic down-to-the-wire game as always.
Who do you have winning? Comment below with your scores and predictions.