KSL UNRIVALED

Why Utah’s Game Against BYU Means Nothing For Season-Long Success

May 16, 2019, 12:22 AM
BYU Cougars - Utah Utes...
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s only May, but the trash talking between Utah and BYU is already heating up.

Most recently, Ute defensive end Bradlee Anae responded to a tweet saying he would wreck everything this year by saying, “Especially BYU.”

Naturally, other BYU and Utah players got involved in some fun smack talk.

The BYU-Utah game is a rivalry that has been played for nearly a century with state pride on the line, however for Utah’s overall success in 2019, this game does not really matter.

What measures Utah’s success?

The Utes are projected to be a top 15 squad and the best team in the Pac-12 South, meaning they are in the running for the Rose Bowl if they win the conference. So losing to BYU will not change or impact that goal one bit.

The only possible downside if the Utes lose to BYU may be if they run the table against the rest of their opponents, they may not get into the College Football Playoff. Yet, in the CFP’s history, 14 of the 20 playoff teams have had a single loss and there has not been a year when every team went undefeated, so an opening weekend road loss for Utah against BYU will not immediately eliminate them from playoff contention.

KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell,  a former Utah quarterback, gave his input on where this game stands for the Utes 2019 season on the Unrivaled podcast.  He put it bluntly for all to hear.

“Win or lose, this game does not matter. It doesn’t mean that much. I am really excited that Bradlee Anae is getting psyched up for this game, and I know BYU is getting psyched up for this game,” Mitchell said. “This is their season, think about that, BYU’s season ends after they play Utah.”

As for the Utes season, there is still a lot more to play for like a conference title and possibly even more.

“For Utah, their season doesn’t end after the first game of the season,” Mitchell said. “In the era of the College Football Playoff, the Pac-12 teams that have made it all have had one loss. So, you can still lose and get in with one loss especially after it being the first game of the season. You can still win your conference and still go to the Rose Bowl.”

Utes Can Move On If They Lose To BYU

One thing that the Utah football program prides itself on is being overlooked and being the underdog. That would line up perfectly and give the Utes motivation and attempt to prove everyone wrong the rest of the way. If the Utes end up winning out with an 11-1 regular season they will be playing in the Pac-12 title game and likely be a top-eight team.

“I’ve made this argument before, where coach Whittingham likes to be the underdog and likes to be the guy who says ‘no one is giving us a chance,’ and that puts Utah right behind the eight-ball if they actually lose this game,” Mitchell said. “No matter what happens to Utah in this game they can’t lose but if they lose, fine, they move on.”

Is Utah Ready For The Next Step?

There’s another argument to be made if Utah ends up losing to BYU.

Expectations are extremely high for the Utes next year and will be favored over BYU in this game. If this is the year that the Utes are to have its best team ever they must prove so by defeating the Cougars.

Mitchell’s co-host Alex Kirry feels that the Utes would massively disappointed if they do not defeat the Cougars.

“Utah, like last year, and even more so this next year is going to have more of the expectation of not just winning the South which is expected,” Kirry said. “Next year is the Pac-12 championship step that Utah has to take to get to the Rose Bowl or get to the College Football Playoff.

“To me, a loss to BYU can be looked at as a throwaway, but when your team is to be a powerhouse in the Pac-12 and you lose in Week 0 you have not proven anything and gone backward.”

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast.

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