On Saturday night in LaVell Edwards stadium, the Utah Utes beat the BYU Cougars by a score of 20-13. This marked the fourth straight victory for the Utah football team in this historic and intense rivalry. The two teams will not play again until the 2016 season, meaning for the next few years the Utes will have bragging rights over the team down south.
Although the Utah offense played a great game, and managed to have zero turnovers, the game was won by the Utah defense. A week ago I had very little faith in the Utah defense after Sean Mannion and the Beavers tore apart their secondary, but after the victory over BYU I have a renewed confidence.
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill was held to just 18 completions out of 48 pass attempts. Utah’s pass rush seemed to have a new life, after it seemed to be almost nonexistent against OSU. In the first half, the Utah defense was able to hold BYU to zero points and only let them cross midfield three times. Although BYU’s offense was able to finally click in the second half, it wasn’t enough for them to come out with the W.
In the trenches the Utah athletes appeared to be bigger and stronger than BYU’s, limiting the Cougar’s impressive run game. After putting up 550 yards of rushing against an elite program in Texas, BYU was held to under 200 yards by the Utes.
Travis Wilson and the Utah offense had a great night on Saturday, and even though they were only able to put up 20 points (the lowest total of the season), it was the lack of turnovers that helped Utah to win the game. BYU was unable to force a single turnover against the Utes, which I believe is the stat that won the game.
Wilson was highly efficient, completing 24 of his 35 pass attempts for 273 yards and 2 scores. More than half of Utah’s receiving yards went to star wide receiver, Dres Anderson, who has been having an outstanding season thus far. The Utah offense has been very impressive in the first 4 games, and now that their defense is looking like they are getting their act together. This team looks to be headed in the right direction coming into a crucial stretch of the season.
As much as I love the passion and excitement that revolves around the Utah and BYU rivalry, I can’t help but feel like it means less and less each year. The past 4 games have shown that Utah has taken control of the Holy War rivalry, and this weekend’s convincing win shows that the gap in skill between the two teams is growing.
Now in the PAC-12, Utah’s recruiting has vastly improved, while BYU’s has remained stagnant. The longer Utah stays in the PAC-12, the more they will focus on conference play, and rather than having the biggest game of the season be against an independent BYU, it will soon shift to a conference rival. The emotions in this rivalry will never fully go away as it means so much to the people of the Salt Lake and Provo valleys, but in terms of football importance this game will loose much of its appeal.
As long as BYU stays independent, the gap in skill between the two teams will continue to grow, meaning the down-to-the-wire games we are so accustomed to seeing between these two teams will be few and far between. As much as I love beating the team down south, this rivalry is slowly fading, and the wins over the Cougars will start to mean less and less to the Utah faithful.