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Why this year's Utah-BYU rivalry game is different

Posted at 8:55 AM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-11 17:20:32-04

PROVO, Utah — BYU and the University of Utah are gearing up for a rivalry game this Saturday that runs deep every year.

This match-up dates back as far as 1922. The first 25 years, Utah ran over BYU, but suddenly it switched for another 20 in favor of the Cougars.

In the ’90s to the 2000s, it was split. But lately, it has been all Utah. Former BYU quarterback Steve Young told ESPN, “Whatever happens, it cuts deep. It’s not a flesh wound; it cuts deeps every year.”

The Utes have won the last nine, dating back to 2010, though the Cougars had a 9-game win streak between the years of 1979 and 1987.

Utah owns the overall series as well with 59 wins, 31 losses and 4 ties.

What makes the rivalry so special is that 22 of the last 26 games have been decided by a touchdown or less.

This year is a little more special than the rest, coming off a unique 2020 season where the two universities were forced to cancel the rivalry game due to COVID protocols within conferences.

The last time these two faced off was down in Provo in 2019, when the Utes came away with it, 30-12. Both 2019 teams' rosters were filled with NFL prospects.

That year, the Utes had 7 players who heard their name called in the NFL Draft. Zach Wilson, who was drafted number 2 overall this year, led the Cougars in 2019.

This season, the Utes have a new name at quarterback: Charlie Brewer, a 5th-year transfer from Baylor. While the Cougars have sophomore quarterback Jaren Hall, who saw the field in 2019 when Wilson was dealing with a shoulder injury.

With this weekend's game, there is a 10-game win streak on the line for Utah. If the Utes win on Saturday, they will become the first to win 10-straight in the history of this rivalry.

Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. MDT in Provo, airing on ESPN.