Rivalry week is here as BYU (1-1) hosts Utah (1-0) at LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. (MT) on ESPN2. No matter which team you are rooting for, there is some good news and some bad news heading into the Holy War showdown.
The good news for BYU fans is that despite an unimpressive start to the season — with a sluggish win over Portland State and a shutout loss to No. 12 LSU (1-0) — the oddsmakers have the Cougars as a one-point favorite. The opening line had Utah as 3.5 favorites, but as of Tuesday morning, they are now in favor of BYU.
The bad news for Cougar fans is that Vegas has picked the Cougars to win the Holy War in 2011, 2012 and 2013. How did that turn out? Well, let’s just say BYU is still looking to end a six-game losing streak in the series to the “Team Up North.”
Date: Saturday, Sept. 9 | Time: 8:15 p.m. MT
Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium — Provo, Utah
TV: ESPN2 | Live stream: WatchESPN
Social Media: #UTAHvsBYU
The good news for Utah fans is that over the last two decades, the underdog (going against the oddsmakers) has gone on to win a majority of the games.
The bad news, of course, is that the “Team Down South” is favored to win despite showing little promise in its two games this season. Add the fact that Utah has been able to take complete control over the series since Kyle Whittingham took over as head coach is even more of a punch to the gut for Ute fans.
With BYU being favored, Vegas is essentially telling Ute nation that it doesn’t think much of the program and the strides it has made over the years as being just one of just five schools (Alabama, Clemson, Florida State and Ohio State) in the country that has appeared in all of the College Football Playoff Rankings since its inception in 2014.
The over/under line has moved from 49.5 to 47.5. Despite the drop, I would still take the under as I believe both offenses will struggle similarly to what we saw last year in Utah’s 20-19 victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
While Vegas has been wrong a number of times throughout the Holy War the past two decades, it’s interesting to note the money line figures. Instead of picking how close the game may end up being, the money line involves simply picking the winning team. With BYU at -125, that means if the Cougars end up winning, a fan would have to risk $125 to win $100. However, for Utah, one would win $105 for a for his/her $100 wager.
For example, last week, BYU was +290, while LSU was -350. This meant that if BYU had won, a bettor would have won $290 for his/her $100 wager. However, for LSU, one would have to risk $350 just to win $100.
So Ute fans, if you really are confident the team can with its seventh straight game over your rivals, you might want to take a short trip down to Las Vegas before Saturday’s game.
For Cougar fans, the team looks to finally put an end to the “Max Hall curse” on Saturday. Tanner Mangum looks to bounce back from a horrific game against LSU to lead the Cougars to their first victory over Utah since 2009.
When it is all said and done, fans on both sides will see a good game as history has shown. The game will likely come down to the wire as 18 of the past 23 games have been decided by a touchdown or less, including two overtimes. With the “Burton’s block”, “Beck to Harline” and Austin Collie’s “Magic Happens” moment, fans will no doubt come away with a new legendary moment in the Holy War come Saturday night.