Big Numbers Highlight BYU’s Top Performances Against Utah
PROVO, Utah – The BYU-Utah matchup is one of the best rivalry games in college football. Great quotes, great moments, and great performances are dotted through the rich history of this game.
To win a rivalry game you need great performances.
BYU has had many great performances over the years against the Utes, but they’ll need some more to show up after Thursday night as the Cougars look to get their first win over Utah since 2009. This time the Utes are the 14th ranked team in the country heading into the season.
Here are some of the best performances from BYU players in rivalry games against the Utes.
2009: TE Andrew George
BYU’s last win against Utah was in 2009 and it was courtesy of Max Hall connecting with tight end Andrew George. George’s touchdown catch in overtime to win the game created a bunch of memes, before the word meme was even a thing 10 years ago.
2008: RB Harvey Unga
The 2008 rivalry matchup ended up with Utah running away with a blowout victory as Utah kept their undefeated season alive. But the game was close heading into the fourth quarter. BYU trailed 27-24 heading into the final quarter and Harvey Unga was nearly unstoppable. Unga was averaging 7.7 yards per carry before BYU started to make the decision to abandon the run and rely on the passing attack. Max Hall threw five interceptions and the rest is history.
2006: QB John Beck
After two years losing to Utah as the starting quarterback, senior John Beck led BYU to their first win in the rivalry in five years with a 375-yard performance a touchdown pass at the end of regulation to tight end Jonny Harline.
2001: RB Luke Staley & CB Jernaro Gilford
Undefeated BYU was down 21-10 in the fourth quarter of the 2001 rivalry game. Doak Walker Award-winning running back Luke Staley scored two touchdowns down the sideline to give BYU the lead and then cornerback Jernaro Gilford sealed the victory with an interception off of a pass from Utah QB Lance Rice.
2000: WR Jonathan Pittman
On 4th & 13 with BYU down 27-26 in LaVell Edwards’ last game as head coach, there was some confusion in BYU’s huddle as to what play the offense should run. Senior wide receiver Jonathan Pittman told quarterback Brandon Doman to give him the “fly” route and he was going deep. Pittman ran the route and Doman let it fly and Pittman came down with the big catch. That big catch led to BYU scoring a touchdown on that drive to give LaVell a win in his final game.
1996: RB’s Brian McKenzie & Ronney Jenkins
BYU entered the rivalry game in 1996 with a national ranking and 12-1 record. The Cougars were led by QB Steve Sarkisian but Sark wasn’t needed against the Utes in ’96. The Cougar ground attack led by Brian McKenzie and Ronney Jenkins were the stars of the game combining for 332 yards and four touchdowns as BYU defeated Utah 37-17 and clinched the Mountain Division title in the WAC.
1991: WR Eric Drage
Ty Detmer’s senior day in 1991 saw him connect with one of his favorite receivers, Eric Drage. With the Cougars down 10-0, Detmer hooked up with Drage for a 97-yard touchdown reception that changed the momentum of the game. Drage ended up with 188 receiving yards in the BYU win.
1989: QB Ty Detmer & BYU Offense
In BYU’s first seven offensive drives against the Utes in 1989, the Cougars scored seven touchdowns and built up a 49-0 lead. Detmer sat out the entire second half as BYU rolled to a 70-31 victory.
1987: DB Rodney Thomas
The last time BYU had a pick-six in the rivalry game against Utah was in 1987 courtesy of Rodney Thomas. Thomas picked off Chris Mendonca in the third quarter to give BYU an 18-10 lead.
1984: WR Glen Kozlowski
BYU’s National Championship season in 1984 was anchored by the Cougar defense. But BYU’s offense was led by feisty wide receiver Glen Kozlowski. Against Utah in the old Rice Stadium, Kozlowski had eight receptions for 162 yards and a touchdown reception in the BYU win.
1981: QB Jim McMahon to TE Gordon Hudson
McMahon’s final home game in Provo was a memorable one. In the 1981 rivalry game, McMahon threw for 565 yards and four touchdowns. His main target was All-American tight end Gordon Hudson who set an NCAA record for receiving yards in a game from a tight end with 259 yards. BYU cruised to a 56-28 victory.
1977: QB Marc Wilson
The record for most passing yards by a BYU quarterback in a rivalry game against Utah is courtesy of Marc Wilson in 1977. Wilson threw for 571 yards as BYU defeated Utah 38-8.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com 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.