Most Exciting BYU/Utah Rivalry Games Feature Thrilling Finishes

Nov 20, 2018, 3:53 PM
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 10: Jamaal Williams #21 of the Brigham Young Cougars is tackled by C...
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 10: Jamaal Williams #21 of the Brigham Young Cougars is tackled by Cody Barton #30 of the Utah Utes during the second half of an college football game, at Rice Eccles Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah defeated BYU 20-19. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The matchup between BYU and Utah has provided plenty of thrilling games with unbelievable conclusions. Both teams have been on the winning and losing side of games that are considered all-timers in the series.

Here are some of the best games in the history of the series, in reverse-chronological order:

2016: Utah 20, BYU 19

In Kalani Sitake’s first game as BYU head coach, he made a gutsy call that nearly paid off big time for the Cougars. Unfortunately for BYU, the Cougars came up just short.

After scoring with 18 seconds remaining in the game, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill was denied by the Utah defense while running the ball towards the end zone in what would have been a go-ahead two point conversion. Instead of putting the Cougars up 21-20, he was stopped with little time remaining to seal the win for Utah.

Although the decision to go for the win rather than tying the game with a point after attempt was controversial, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake stood by his decision, saying that he’d do it again if he had the chance.

The two point conversion attempt was the climax of a game that featured a couple of lead changes and mixed play by both quarterbacks. Hill finished with a pair of touchdown scores on the ground with two interceptions through the air while Utah QB Troy Williams finished with a touchdown pass and three interceptions.

2015: Utah 35, BYU 28

They weren’t scheduled to play in 2015, but the stars aligned as the two teams met on at a neutral site for the 2015 Las Vegas Bowl.

Utah rolled out to a early 35-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to plenty of mistakes by BYU.

From there however, the rest of the scoring belonged to the Cougars as they stormed back and came close to forcing overtime or taking the lead in the final minutes.

Utah, however, would hold on to win and send BYU head coach out out with a loss in his final game as the Cougars’ head coach.

2014: Utah 20, BYU 13

Utah held a 20-6 lead in the fourth quarter, but saw it nearly dwindle away as the Cougars mounted a late comeback effort.

After scoring their first touchdown with around five minutes remaining, the Cougars got the ball back after forcing a quick three-and-out by Utah on the next possession.

Unfortunately, after driving into the Utah red zone, Taysom Hill’s fourth down pass was intercepted, preserving Utah’s fourth-straight win over BYU.

2012: Utah 24, BYU 21

Many believe that the 2012 edition of the “Holy War” had the craziest ending in the history of the series. Utah fans rushed the field three times before the game actually ended, with a crazy result preceding each time.

The first time, the clock expired on a BYU incomplete pass and the crimson-clad fans took the field to celebrate the win. After a review, however, it was determined that there was one second left on the clock.

The fans were cleared off the field and the Cougars lined up for a game-tying 51-yard field goal. The kick was blocked by the Utes and the fans stormed the field again.

Unfortunately, they were a bit too early, entering the field before the play was blown dead. The referees issued a 15-yard penalty to the Utes and gave BYU another shot at the field goal, this time from 36 yards. In a stroke of good luck, Riley Stephenson clanked it off the upright, allowing the fans to rush the field again. This time, nothing was stopping them from celebrating the victory in one of the craziest college football endings of all-time.

2010: Utah 17, BYU 16

The final game between the Cougars and Utes as Mountain West Conference rivals ended in dramatic fashion.

With the Cougars lined up for a 42-yard last-second field goal, Utah defensive back Brandon Burton came around the edge and blocked the kick to preserve an improbable come from behind victory for the Utes.

BYU took a 13-0 lead going into the fourth quarter before the Utes came back to steal the win. Quarterback Jordan Wynn struggled all game, completing just 13 of 30 passes, but pulled it together in the fourth to lead Utah to the rivalry game victory.

2009: BYU 26, Utah 23 OT

Following a stunning overtime victory, BYU quarterback Max Hall gave an infamous quote that still resonates with Utah fans. In his postgame interview after hitting tight end Andrew George for the game-clinching overtime touchdown, Hall said “I don’t like Utah. In fact, I hate them.” The quote was made immortal by t-shirts that were worn by Utah fans, reading “Max Hall Hates Me.”

The next day, Hall apologized for his remarks which included saying that the university was “classless.” The quarterback was upset after his family had allegedly had beer spilled on them during the game.

Controversial postgame comments aside, the game was thrilling. BYU held a 20-6 lead going into the fourth quarter before the Utes scored 14 points in the final period to force overtime.

2007: BYU 17, Utah 10

With the Utes leading 10-9 in the fourth quarter, BYU engineered a late-game drive that included a 4th-and-18 conversion to come away with the comeback victory.

BYU wide receiver Austin Collie, who caught the pass from quarterback Max Hall on fourth down, added fuel to the rivalry fire by alluding that the Cougars benefited from divine intervention on that fateful play.

“Obviously, when you’re doing what’s right on and off the field, I think the Lord steps in and plays a part in it. Magic happens,” Collie said after the game.

2006: BYU 33, Utah 31

After trailing for most of the game, BYU pulled together an improbable win by scoring on the game’s final play of the game with no time left on the clock.

With three seconds remaining in the game, BYU snapped the ball on the final play of the game. After scrambling around for a few seconds, quarterback John Beck found tight end Jonny Harline in the end zone to give the Cougars the win.

The victory and its dramatic ending lead to BYU fans making t-shirts that read “Harline’s Still Open.”

2003: Utah 3, BYU 0

In his first year at Utah’s helm, head coach Urban Meyer guided the Utes to a slow paced but historic 3-0 win over the Cougars.

Utah kicker Bryan Borreson’s second quarter make was the lone score of the game for both teams.

While the game was low-scoring, the result was that BYU’s NCAA record for scoring in 361 straight games was snapped thanks to a strong defensive effort by the Utes. The Cougars were held to just 156 yards in the loss, which also secured an outright Mountain West Conference championship for the Utes.

2000: BYU 34, Utah 27

In his final game, the Cougars sent legendary head coach LaVell Edwards out in style with a dramatic win.

Down by one with little time remaining, BYU quarterback Brandon Doman led the Cougars down the field and scored on a four yard run to give the Cougars the lead with less than a minute remaining.

The victory was the final win in Edwards’ long and storied career.

1998: BYU 26, Utah 24

Thanks to the 1998 BYU-Utah game, the work “doink” became a part of both team’s fanbase’s vocabulary.

Down by two with little time remaining on the clock, the Utes drove down to the 15-yard line before attempting what would be a game-winning field goal.

Unfortunately for Utah, kicker Ryan Kaneshiro’s attempt “doinked” off the upright, preserving the win for the Cougars.

The sound of the ball striking the upright and the image of the goalpost shaking after the miss became etched in the mind of fans of both teams for years to come.

1993: Utah 34, BYU 31

Thanks to the heroics of kicker Chris Yergensen, the Utes won in Provo for the first time in 22 yards.

Although he had missed two field goals earlier in the game, Yergensen rallied to boot a career-long 55 yarder with less than a minute remaining to give

Ute fans and players were so excited about the win that they attempted to tear down the goalposts at Cougar Stadium. BYU players returned to the field to protect the goalposts and prevent the further embarrassment.

1988: Utah 57, BYU 28

The Utes secured their first win over BYU since 1978, in a game that came to be known as the “Rice Bowl.”

Utah quarterback Scott Mitchell and the rest of the Utes got the early jump on the Cougars, quickly grabbing a 21-0 lead on heavily favored BYU.

Mitchell had a terrific outing, throwing for three touchdowns and 384 yards in the big win.

Running back Eddie Johnson also played well, turning in a four-touchdown performance.


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Most Exciting BYU/Utah Rivalry Games Feature Thrilling Finishes