BYU/Utah Rivalry: Top Performances Of The 2000s
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The 2000s may have been the golden age of the BYU-Utah rivalry. The games were competitive, fun and had major implications for both teams’ seasons.
The 2000s saw some of the best teams in each programs history and featured some of the most exciting games and finishes in the series’ history.
2000: Jonathan Pittman, Senior WR
Honorable mention: Utah wide receiver Chris Christensen
In LaVell Edward’s final game as BYU head coach, Pittman made a couple of the biggest catches in the history of the rivalry. With the Cougars down 27-26, Pittman came up with huge grabs, including one on fourth down, to put BYU in position for a 4-yard TD run by quarterback Brandon Doman with little more than a minute remaining. For the game, Pittman finished with 117 yards on four catches.
Utah’s Chris Christensen also turned in a strong game receiving the ball. He hauled in seven catches for 147 yards and a long gain of 56 yards in the loss.
BYU prevailed 34-27.
The Cougars did not play in a bowl game that season and finished with a 6-6 record in Edwards’ last season.
Utah finished 4-7 but sent a couple of future superstars to the NFL. Cornerback Andre Dyson went to the Tennessee Titans in the second round while wide receiver Steve Smith was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the third round.
2001: Luke Staley, Junior RB
Honorable mention: Utah running back Dameon Hunter
The Cougars were 10-0 and ranked No. 8 in the country when they hosted Utah in the rivalry games. Trailing 21-10 in the fourth quarter, Luke Staley, who would go on to win the Doak Walker Award as the top running back in the country, came up big for the Cougars. Staley scored twice in the fourth to give BYU the win and preserve the undefeated season.
Ute running back Dameon Hunter picked up 106 yards and a touchdown in the heartbreaking loss for the Utes.
BYU won the game, 24-21.
The Cougars started the season on a 12 game winning streak and rose to No. 8 in the country. Unfortunately, an injury to Staley derailed the BYU’s hopes of a perfect season. They would lose their final two games of the season to finish 12-2 with a No. 25 ranking in the country.
Utah would finish the season 8-4 and make a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl where they upset Carson Palmer and USC in a 10-6 victory.
2002: Brandon Warfield, Junior RB
Honorable mention: BYU defensive back Aaron Francisco
In Utah head coach Ron McBride’s final game at the helm, Warfield was huge. He scored the game’s only touchdown and gained 198 yards on the ground to lead the Utes to an emotional victory.
Francisco, a future NFL star, racked up 14 tackles, including three solo takedowns, in the loss, which ended BYU’s hopes of becoming bowl eligible.
The Utes came away with a 13-6 victory.
BYU missed out on a bowl game with a disappointing 5-7 record, including a 2-5 record in Mountain West Conference play.
Utah finished 5-6 but sent offensive tackle Jordan Gross to the NFL, where he was selected with the 8th overall pick by the Carolina Panthers.
2003: Bryan Borreson, Sophomore K
Honorable mention: BYU linebacker Colby Bockwoldt
In a blizzard, the Utes, led by head coach Urban Meyer, defeated “The Team Down South”, on Borreson’s 41-yard field goal in the second quarter. It would be the only score of the game as the Utes held BYU off the scoreboard for the first time since 1975.
In the loss, BYU linebacker finished with 12 total tackles to lead the game in takedowns.
Utah edged BYU 3-0.
BYU finished with another disappointing 4-8 record.
Utah finished with one of the best seasons in program history with a 10-2 record, a Mountain West Conference championship, a Liberty Bowl victory and a No. 21 final record.
2004: Steve Savoy, Sophomore WR
Honorable mention: BYU quarterback John Beck
With ESPN’s College GameDay in town, Utah completed a undefeated regular season and clinched an appearance in the Bowl Championship Series with a dominant victory over the Cougars. Savoy was electric in the rivalry game, scoring three touchdowns with 143 yards of total offense.
John Beck played well for the Cougars with two touchdown passes and 213 yards through the air. Most impressively, he did not turn the ball over to a stingy Utah defense.
Utah defeated BYU 52-21.
It was the final game of the short and mostly unmemorable run with Gary Crowton as head coach. The Cougars finished with a 5-6 record.
Utah completed a magical undefeated season with a victory over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. Following the season, Meyer left to become the head coach at Florida. Kyle Whittingham was promoted to the opening left by his departure. Quarterback Alex Smith was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the No. 1 overall pick.
2005: Brett Ratliff, Junior QB
Honorable mention: BYU running back Curtis Brown
It was the first game in the rivalry series that pitted head coaches Kyle Whittingham and Bronco Mendenhall against each other. Filling in for injured starter Brian Johnson, Ratliff played the game of his life for Utah. He threw four touchdown passes and racked up 240 yards in the dramatic overtime victory.
Beck played another strong game against Utah, but unfortunately was on the losing side for the second straight year. He finished with 309 yards and two touchdowns.
Utah edged BYU in overtime 41-34.
The Utes finished with a 7-5 record and a win over Georgia Tech in the Emerald Bowl.
BYU made it back to a bowl game where they fell to California in the Las Vegas Bowl. They finished with a 6-6 record.
2006: John Beck, Senior QB
Honorable mention: Utah quarterback Brett Ratliff
For the third straight year, Beck was the best player on the turf for BYU. This time around, he came up with the victory thanks to a dramatic game-ending TD toss to tight end Jonny Harline. For the game, he had four touchdowns and 375 yards through the air.
Ratliff again played well against the Cougars. He threw for 358 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
BYU came away with a thrilling 33-31 victory.
The Cougars went on to defeat Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl to finish with a 11-2 record and a No. 16 ranking in the final AP Poll. They were also Mountain West Conference champions with a perfect 8-0 record in conference play.
Utah went to the Armed Forces Bowl where the Utes beat Tulsa 25-13. They finished with a 8-5 record and sent Eric Weddle (San Diego Chargers) and Paul Soliai (Miami Dolphins) to the NFL.
2007: Austin Collie, Junior WR
Honorable mention: Utah defensive back Robert Johnson
With the Cougars trailing 10-9 late in the game, Collie hauled in a huge fourth-and-18 pass from quarterback Max Hall for a 49 yard gain. This was the play of the game and set up the game-winning touchdown by running back Harvey Unga with 38 seconds remaining. Collie drew a ton of criticism postgame by implying that the play was a result of divine intervention.
Utah defensive back Robert Johnson played well with a game high six solo tackles for a combined total of 12 takedowns and a pass break up in the loss.
BYU just edged Utah, 17-10.
The Cougars finished with another 11-2 record, the Mountain West Conference championship and another exciting victory over UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The Utes finished with a 9-4 record and a victory over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.
2008: Brian Johnson, Senior QB
Honorable mention: BYU running back Harvey Unga
It’s hard to say who played better as the Utes finished the 2008 regular season undefeated with a win over BYU. Johnson was terrific, completing 30 of 36 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns. As impressive as that was, the Utah defense was stellar, forcing BYU quarterback Max Hall into five interceptions in the big win.
The Cougars struggled in all aspects of the game against a highly superior Utah team, but Unga was solid with 116 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
The Utes won 48-24.
BYU had a good season with a 10-3 record and a final No. 25 ranking in the AP Poll.
Utah finished with the best season in program history. The Utes went on to shock Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and finish with the No. 2 ranking in the final polls. Many speculate and wish that Utah could have competed for the national championship that season.
2009: Max Hall, Senior QB
Honorable mention: Utah kicker Joe Phillips
Before stating his hatred for Utah after the game, Hall made magic happen when he found Andrew George for a 25 yard touchdown to end the game in overtime. Though it wasn’t his most efficient game, he finished with two TDs and 134 yards through the air with no turnovers.
Phillips booted five field goals for the Utes in the loss.
BYU edged Utah 26-23 in overtime.
The Cougars went on to play in the Las Vegas Bowl again, where they smashed Oregon State 44-20 and finished with a No. 12 ranking after an 11-2 season.
Utah finished 10-3 with a win over California in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Utes sent a school-record six players to the NFL Draft that summer.
Final record in the 2000s: BYU – 5 wins, Utah – 5 win