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Bowl Eligibility? Check. Utes up Next.

22 November 2010 Brett Richins 9 Comments
BYU has taken 3 of 4 against Utah

BYU has taken 3 of 4 against Utah

The BYU Cougars have fought back from a 1-4 start to the season and are now bowl eligible.

Next up – the Holy War.

What looked like a laugher in Utah’s favor just a month ago, now figures to be a hard fought game between two equally talented teams.

After four wins over the bottom of the barrel in the Mountain West, this is the game that will show just how far the Cougars have come since their last loss, which occurred on the road at TCU on October 16th and left them staring at 2-5 record.

The Utes needed a come from behind 38-34 victory over San Diego State on Saturday to avoid going oh-fer in its last three games after starting the season 8-0.

Meanwhile the Cougars easily dispatched New Mexico 40-7 to win their fourth straight and their fifth in their last six games.

What’s on the line?

A second-place finish behind BCS candidate TCU.

With a win by the Cougars, both teams would finish 6-2 in their final seasons in the Mountain West Conference. The Cougars however would lay claim to the second-place slot based on head-to-head results.

A bid to the Maaco Bowl – Las Vegas may also be on the line. There is some question as to whether the bowl would invite a 7-5 BYU over a 9-3 Utah, especially since it would be the sixth straight trip to Las Vegas for the Cougars.

However, there are three factors in the Cougars’ favor if they were to come off victorious on Saturday.

First, BYU would have won the head-to-head battle with the Utes. Second, they would come into the bowl season with momentum and on a five-game winning streak while the Utes would enter the post season on a 1-3 slump.

Third, when considering tickets sales the Las Vegas Bowl committee would have to take into consideration the relative enthusiasm of the two fan bases to be in Vegas.

You would have to assume that where the two programs have come from this season, that BYU fans with be much more energized and excited about being in Las Vegas this year than Utah fans, who, just three weeks ago, had dreams of going to its third BCS Bowl game in the last seven years.

Of course all of this talk of going bowling in Vegas hinges on TCU getting that BCS bid.

Bragging rights are always on the line in this rivalry, and perhaps even more so this year as both programs head off in different directions, Utah to the PAC-12 and BYU to independence. This will be the final time that this game has conference implications in this historic rivalry.

Recent history says it will be tight.

For the most part this game has been a nail-bitter over the last decade or so. In fact, 11 of the last 13 contest between the Blue and the Red have been decided by 7 points or less.

BYU has won three of the last four over their hated rivals by a total of just 12 points. Each victory was a thrilling, last-moment win that will go down in the lore of the Holy War.

In 2006, the Cougars won 33-31 on the “Answered Prayer” from John Beck to Jonny Harline.

In 2007, Max Hall completed a miracle throw to Austin Collie on a 4th and 18 play to keep the winning drive alive for BYU as they defeated the Utes 17-10.

Hall again came through for BYU last year, hitting Andrew George for a touchdown in overtime to lift the Cougars to a 26-23 win.

We will be taking a close look at the key match-ups in the game as the week progresses, as for now you can sit back and enjoy reliving the last three BYU wins in this series.

2006: The Answered Prayer or Harline is Still Open

2007: 4th and 18 or Miracles Happen

2009: George is Still Running or Max Hates Me

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9 Comments »

  • Hoax said:

    Excited and nervous about this game. I’m sending all my good karma Jake Heaps’ way!

    Go Cougars!!

  • Greg said:

    Good luck, Cougars!!! Bragging rights and a Las Vegas Bowl bid are one the line. Here’s hoping Rich gets his Pick-Six, too.

  • Ryan said:

    This one should be really interesting. The Utes probably have more potential to do damage, given their athleticism and home field, but you have to wonder where their heads are at the moment. There isn’t much left for them to play for anymore other than pride. Pride counts for a lot in this particular game, but then again it counted for a lot for the Utes in South Bend a few weeks ago, too…

    The mental edge has got to go to BYU, and that could end up counting for a lot. Particularly if BYU is able to get on the scoreboard early and often as they have been doing lately.

    The keys to this game, as always, will be the offensive lines. I’d be inclined to give that edge to BYU as well. Cullen at LT for Utah has been shaky at best. BYU’s biggest problem on the O line has been penalties. If either team is unable to protect the QB or establish the run game they will lose.

    I predict BYU wins a close, relatively ugly (ok: “less than perfect”) one: 24-21.

  • CR said:

    If Utah wins or BYU squeaks by with a win, Utah goes to Vegas. I think BYU’s only chance to get to the Vegas Bowl is by blowing out Utah, which isn’t likely but not out of the realm of possibility.

  • Jim C said:

    Congrats to the seniors who left LES for good on Saturday. The coolest part of the game for me was when the punt team showed punt then quickly re-formed so Jake could run the option. The punt team coming off the field and the regular offense coming on the field had a lot bumping and high fiving going on. Nice to see the comradeship on the team.

  • Dave said:

    IT probably also depends who the foe in the Las Vegas Bowl will be. If it is Oregon St. or somebody from the Pac-10 I’d expect Utah. There is some discussion of Notre Dame in the Vegas Bowl and if that were to happen I wouldn’t be surprised to see BYU going.

  • Greg said:

    I think the Las Vegas Bowl (LVB) wants BYU regardless of the Holy War’s outcome, but they might have to settle for Utah. The rationale is simple:

    1) BYU has sold out the LVB for how many years in a row? A lot.

    2) What’s the likelihood the LVB will get BYU again soon? Zero. BYU would be in a position like Notre Dame if it goes 6-6 or 7-5 as an independent. Most BYU fans expect 8, 9, and 10-win seasons with the occassional undefeated BCS National Championship sprinkled in… :)

    3) What’s the likelihood the LVB will get Utah soon? Pretty good. 5-6th place in the PAC-12 is a likely scenario against Oregon, USC, Stanford, etc.

    4) Would the LVB prefer a team with four consecutive wins or three losses in their last four games? This one’s common sense.

  • Jim said:

    Thanks for linking to those last 3 win highlights. So great to relive that! This year should be just as exciting.

  • Aaron said:

    Those videos give me the chills! I’m proud to say I was at two out of three of those games and rushed the field at both of them. I can’t wait for Saturday!

    Does anyone else think it would just be absolutely awesome to see the Cougs in the all blue uniforms worn this past weekend while facing the Utes in all red this coming Saturday? It would definately send this era of the rivalry out in style. Can’t BYU get special permission to wear home jersies at an away game?

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