Performance Of BYU QBs In Second Rivalry Start Is Mixed Bag Of Results

Aug 23, 2019, 7:00 AM | Updated: Aug 29, 2019, 9:45 am
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) gets the first down on a keeper during the game ...
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (11) gets the first down on a keeper during the game against the Brigham Young Cougars at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson says he is “100-percent” healthy and ready to go for the season opener against the Utah Utes next Thursday.

Thursday’s rivalry game at LaVell Edwards will mark Wilson’s second start as BYU’s quarterback against the Utes.

It got me thinking, how have previous BYU quarterbacks fared against Utah in their second start? The results vary depending on the era’s you look at.

Since 1972, BYU quarterbacks in their second starts against Utah have posted an 11-7 record in those games. The last victory coming from BYU in 2001 with senior Brandon Doman as the Cougars quarterback. Doman was 2-0 as a starter against the Utes.

Last year, Wilson threw for 204 yards on 20-of-29 passing and tossed two touchdowns and one interception in his first taste of the rivalry as a player.

Now Wilson will look to buck the recent trends of Cougar QB’s struggling in their second starts versus Utah.

History of BYU Quarterbacks in Second Start vs. Utah Utes

2017: Tanner Mangum – Utah 19, BYU 13

Mangum led a valiant comeback effort against Utah in the 2015 Las Vegas Bowl after being down 35-0. In 2016 he was the backup behind Taysom Hill. Mangum’s second shot at the Utes came in 2017 one week after BYU didn’t cross the 50-yard line against LSU in Houston. The Cougar offense struggled mightily against Utah and Mangum suffered an injury on the final play of the game.

2016: Taysom Hill – Utah 20, BYU 19

Taysom had to wait three years to get a second start against Utah and it was a classic in the historic rivalry. With 18 seconds left in regulation, Hill scored with a touchdown run to pull BYU within one point of the Utes. The Cougars chose to go for two and Hill was stuffed immediately against Utah’s defense.

2011: Jake Heaps – Utah 54, BYU 10

There are some potential parallels between the 2011 rivalry game and this year’s contest. Like this week’s game, BYU’s home opener in 2011 was against Utah and the Cougars boasted a heralded sophomore quarterback in Jake Heaps. Like Wilson, Heaps’ first start in the rivalry was at Utah and saw BYU squander a big lead in the fourth quarter. The 2011 game was a turnover fest for BYU and became a meme for local Arby’s restaurants everywhere.

2008: Max Hall – Utah 48, BYU 24

BYU had won the previous two meetings in the series and were two-time defending Mountain West Champions. Utah in 2008 was undefeated and ready to crash the BCS once again and that they did forcing Max Hall into five turnovers and another rivalry rout.

2005: John Beck – Utah 41, BYU 34 (OT)

BYU found themselves down 24-3 at the half before John Beck and the BYU offense led a comeback to force overtime. Ultimately, BYU came up short as Beck lobbed the ball up for final prayer to Michael Reed that came up incomplete. Utah was led by Brett Ratliff at quarterback who got his first start in relief of the injured Brian Johnson.

2001: Brandon Doman – BYU 24, Utah 21

The last time a quarterback defeated Utah in his second start against the Utes was Brandon Doman in 2001. BYU was undefeated in 2001 but the Cougars were in a fight with the Utes as BYU needed a fourth-quarter come back to get the win and keep their undefeated season alive.

1998: Kevin Feterik – BYU 26, Utah 24

After coming up short in 1997 in Provo, Feterik helped lead BYU to a victory in Salt Lake and seal the Pacific Division title in the Western Athletic Conference on the Utes home field.

1996: Steve Sarkisian – BYU 37, Utah 17

The last time BYU defeated Utah by more than a touchdown was here in 1996. Sarkisian led one of the best teams in the country in 1996, but he wasn’t needed much against the Utes in this game. Sarkisian threw for only 76 yards as the Cougar ground attack led by Ronney Jenkins and Brian McKenzie led the way.

1994: John Walsh – Utah 34, BYU 31

John Walsh’s two starts against Utah both ended up in losses with a score of 34-31 and the rivalry has never been the same for BYU ever since.

1990: Ty Detmer – BYU 45, Utah 22

This was Detmer’s third appearance in the rivalry game, but only his second start. 1990 was Detmer’s Heisman season and he led a prolific BYU offense that was tops in the nation.

1988: Sean Covey – Utah 57, BYU 28

Losers of nine straight in the rivalry game, Utah sprung the upset led by KSL Unrivaled host Scott Mitchell. The end of the Covey era took place in this game and Ty Detmer never looked back.

1985: Robbie Bosco – BYU 38, Utah 28

Utah entered this game with hopes of claiming a share of the WAC title if they could spring the upset against BYU. They kept it close as it was tied at the half before BYU created separation in the second half. Bosco threw for 276 yards in the win and finished 2-0 in starts against the Utes in his career.

1983: Steve Young – BYU 55, Utah 7

In 1982, Young and the BYU offense struggled and eeked out a 17-12 win. In 1983, BYU had one of the best offenses in college football and Utah had no answer. The Cougars built up a 28-point lead at the half and cruised to a dominating victory.

1980: Jim McMahon – BYU 56, Utah 6

McMahon entered this game 0-1 as a starter against Utah. The Cougars had lost to the Utes in 1978, McMahon then redshirted in 1979 and came back in 1980 with a vengeance. BYU didn’t mess around as McMahon led the Cougars to a 42-0 lead before rolling to a 56-6 win.

Others: Marc Wilson – 1979 – Win; Gifford Nielsen – 1976 – Win; Gary Sheide – 1974 – Win; Dave Terry – 1972 – Win.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Performance Of BYU QBs In Second Rivalry Start Is Mixed Bag Of Results