When did BYU-Utah rivalry start mattering?

Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

            Utah dominated through the first 75 years of the Utah-BYU football series. The Cougars didn’t get their first win until 1942.

             Later BYU ruled for two decades, until the early 1990s when Utah managed three wins in a row, effectively changing the rivalry into a 50-50 proposition. The teams went 7-7 in the next 14 years.

            Now Utah is on a 3-game win streak.

            Which raises the question of exactly how much of Utah and BYU’s 117-year series matter? Is it the overall record, which Utah leads 56-34-4 (BYU records say Utah leads 53-31-4)?  Or something more recent?


            [poll id=”271″]



  1. Jefferson

    The *OVERALL* record (back to the very beginning of the rivalry) is the ONLY TRUE METRIC upon which bragging rights can legitimately be established. No other chopped-up or manipulated win/loss record makes any logical sense!!

    The ONLY other factor that has ANY significance at all is: which team won it last year. That seems to fuel the rivalry, leading up-to the current year’s contest. But once the current game is over, nothing really matters except the OVERALL record! None of this ridiculous parsing of “the past 5 years”…. or “since the Lavell Edwards era”, etc. Stupid!!

    • BlueCoug

      Unfortunately for Utah, the Utes didn’t accomplish anything on a national scale during all of their early years of “dominance”. In fact, the Utes didn’t even crack the AP Top 25 until 1994, seventeen years after BYU cracked the AP poll in 1977. By 1994, BYU had finished in the AP Top 25 eleven times, including back-to-back Top 7 finishes and a national championship.

  2. BlueCoug

    “Utah dominated through the first 75 years of the Utah-BYU football series…”???

    Seriously Brad, you need to pay attention in history class. BYU didn’t start playing football until 1922 – even if your extend your timeline from 1922 to 1971, that’s only 50 years, but only 47 seasons, since BYU suspended it’s football program during WWII. If you want to count BY Academy, then BY Academy won the 1894 to 1896 series 3-2.

    • Uteology

      Seriously Brad, you need to pay attention in history class. BYU didn’t start playing football until 1922


      Actually, BYU didn’t start playing football until 1972.

      • Osgrath

        I have to (grudgingly) agree with you on that, Uteology. I was also a Cougar fan prior to 1972, and I know what things were like, with a few scattered bright spots, like the 1958 Utah game, or Eldon Fortie or Virgil Carter.

  3. Johnny Triumph

    This game has been relevant in the near term for its conference championship importance. Since Utah left for PAC12 it has become irrelevant and benefits neither school, only adding a loss to one or the other while a win profits very little. It’s time for it to end.

  4. ekute

    Since the beginning of the WAC, which gives byu a slight edge, but LaVell is gone and there will never be another like him.

    • BlueCoug

      Since the beginning of the WAC, BYU leads the series 30-20, but has dominated the Utes in conference championships, in overall record, in national rankings, and in national awards. Even during the Bronco/Kyle era, BYU has dominated Utah in Top 25 finishes.

      • Uteology

        For the love of rain, please stop the same old smack.

        Can’t you keep your points relevant to this millennium?

      • Osgrath

        The beginning of the WAC may well have been prior to your birth. In 2013 I can see that a 1984 National Championship is any more relevant than a 1944 National Championship.

        Besides, although we as Cougar fans can take a measure of pride in our past All American, Heisman Trophy winners, and conference titles, there are two reasons not to use them to lord it over an opponent:
        a. Why should we feel the need to compare ourselves to another program? My love of the Cougars does not require me to hate the Utes – in fact I think that if Utah and BYU both went 12-1 on the season with a solid bowl win, the world would be nearly perfect; add to that a successful season for Utah State, and Utah might become a true Zion.
        b. All that really matters will be resolved and made clear close to midnight Saturday night.

        And if it turns out differently than I hope, I’m pretty sure the sun will still come up Sunday morning and the earth will continue to rotate into the foreseeable future.

  5. Fatman86

    The real problem here isn’t that the rivalry matters, it’s that it matters too much. Utah needs to move on. If they are ever going to regain any respectablility, they need to focus on that PAC 12 schedule and not BYU. Perhaps then they could avoid embarassing games like the Oregon St game. That isn’t how it’s going in Ute land though. This game still means everything up there for some reason. Hate is an all consuming motivator. That however is small minded Mountain West type thinking. I think the 2 years off from this game is the best thing that could happen for the Utes. It’s time to start worrying about the PAC 12, and not mediocre unconnected independents.

    • CougarSunDevil

      “and not mediocre unconnected independents.” Ok, from BYU’s perspective “…and not mediocre PAC-12 Doormats.”

  6. Mike Brame

    Past performance is no indicator of future results. The ONLY thing that matters is the next game… although I still like to watch Beck to Harline and Hall to Collie reruns.

    Having said that, the next most important thing is last year, darn it.

    Then the Bronco / Kyle era.

    Then as far back as Urban. Then to the beginning of the Lavel Edwards era.

    It’s kinda like peeling an onion. If you go far enough back, there’s really nothing of significance.

  7. LoneStarRunner

    USC and Stanford understand that some things are even more important than conference record – tradition! It’s what makes college football unique. In their haste to “move on”, some fans have forgotten that.

  8. Detmer Bosco

    The only seasons that matter are the ones when BYU beat Utah. The seasons when Utah won don’t count because either a) BYU wasn’t playing up to its minimum standards; and/or 2) Utah was having an anomalous season as when Urban Meyer came in for two stepping-stone years.

    • Annoyed with dumb comments

      Really? Utah only wins when byu does not play well?
      Your arrogance is appalling.

      Here is one Ute fan that acknowledges that byu is a good team and has good players. I have respect for their program, but it is the byu fans that push me away from ever wanting them to succeed outside of the rivalry.
      Grow up.

      • Osgrath

        I think the troll caught you in his trap. Nobody truly believes what DB wrote (outside of certain State Hospitals).

  9. Z

    Without history you have no true rivalry. It was the dominance of the early years by Utah that made the LaVell years so sweet. It is the battle for athletes by the two dominant universities in the state. And as much as Utah wants to think they have ‘moved on’ and created new rivalries in the Pac-12, all you have to do is mix a little red and blue on the field for fireworks to happen. That is true rivalry.

    • Osgrath

      Florida – Florida St., Georgia – Georgia Tech, USC – Notre Dame are all heated rivalries outside of conference. Given the 45 mile distance, the common culture and the recruiting battles, a rivalry is only natural. Even if one program thrives and the other sinks into mediocrity over the next 20 years, the rivalry will continue, just as it did prior to 1965.

  10. Norm Solomon

    The “Holy War” took on new meaning for me during the 1990s, when the home team’s record was 2-8. Now that’s a rivalry!

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