Utah’s Best Performances In Rivalry History

Aug 27, 2019, 1:53 PM
Running back Joe Williams #28 of the Utah Utes runs for yardage against defensive back Kai Nacua #1...
Running back Joe Williams #28 of the Utah Utes runs for yardage against defensive back Kai Nacua #12 of the Brigham Young Cougars during the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium on December 19, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In the history of the Utah/BYU rivalry, many players have had to post big performances to get the win.

Some have had to score in final moments or put the team on their back in order to come out victorious over their heated rival.

Here are some of the best performances from the Utes in the rivalry with BYU:

1988: Scott Mitchell, Sophomore QB

The Utes entered the 1988 rivalry game against BYU with a 5-5 record but lost the last nine games to the Cougars. Mitchell threw 21-of-30 passing for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns in Utah’s dominating 57-28 win over BYU.

Mitchell threw all three touchdowns in the second half . The victory snapped BYU’s nine game winning streak in the rivalry.

1988: Eddie Johnson, Senior RB

Mitchell wasn’t the only standout in Utah’s 1988 win over BYU. Running back Eddie Johnson, who currently holds the school record for most rushing yards in a career, rushed for 112 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Johnson and Mitchell accounted for seven of Utah’s eight touchdowns in the win, by halftime, Johnson already had found the end zone three times.

1993: Mike McCoy, Junior QB

Mike McCoy had a fantastic performance, throwing for 434 yards and three touchdowns, including an 84-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Marsh to break the tie early in the fourth quarter to help Utah to a 34-31 win.

The 434 yards thrown against BYU is a Holy War record for most yards in a game. The record still stands today.

1993: Jamal Anderson, Senior RB

Anderson hobbled into the locker room with an ankle injury but later returned after heavily taping his ankle and played in the second half. He willed the Utes to a 34-31 thrilling win over BYU at Cougar Stadium to snap their 4-game losing streak to the Cougars.

“The Dirty Bird” scored his second rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to help Utah retake the lead late in the game. BYU tied the game at 31 when quarterback John Walsh ran in a one yard touchdown. Utes kicker Chris Yergensen hit a 55-yard field goal with 25 seconds left to give Utah the win.

Anderson finished with 146 rushing yards and one touchdown. He added three catches for 21 yards and another score.

The Utes finished with a 7-6 record (5-3 WAC) and lost to USC in the Freedom Bowl 28-21 despite their 21-point second half comeback came up short.

1995: Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala, Freshman RB

Fuamatu-Ma’afala was a force in Utah’s 34-17 victory over BYU in Provo with 108 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He scored the first and last touchdowns of the game for the Utes as they beat the Cougars for the third straight time in the rivalry.

2002: Brandon Warfield, Junior RB

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 13-6 victory.

The Utes finished the season with a 5-6 record as McBride handed the reins to Urban Meyer as Utah’s next head coach.

2004: Steve Savoy, Sophomore WR

With ESPN’s College GameDay in town, Utah completed an undefeated regular season and clinched an appearance in the Bowl Championship Series with a dominant 52-21 victory over the Cougars. Savoy was electric in the rivalry game, scoring three touchdowns with 143 yards of total offense.

It was the final game of the short and mostly unmemorable run with Gary Crowton as head coach of BYU.

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.

2005: Brett Ratliff, Junior QB

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, 41-34 in Provo.

The Utes finished with a 7-5 record and a win over Georgia Tech in the Emerald Bowl.

2008: Brian Johnson, Senior QB

Johnson was terrific, completing 30-of-36 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns. As impressive as that was, the Utah defense was just as good, forcing BYU quarterback Max Hall into five interceptions in the big win.

The Utes won 48-24.

Utah finished with the best season in program history as they went on to shock Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and finish with the No. 2 ranking in the final polls.

2011: John White, Junior RB

White posted a fantastic performance in Provo as the Utes stunned the Cougars 54-10. The junior running back finished with 174 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.

He wasn’t the only star performer for Utah as the defense forced seven BYU turnovers, six fumbles and one interception. One of those turnovers turned into a touchdown as defensive end Derrick Shelby recovered a fumble in the end zone for the first score of the game.

The Utes finished the season with an 8-5 record after beating Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

2015: Joe Williams, Junior RB

It was supposed to be the second season of the “hiatus” in the rivalry but the two squared off in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Utes scorched the Cougars in the first quarter with 35 unanswered points. Running back Joe Williams recorded 91 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The big first quarter was due to the defense forcing three interceptions and two fumbles.

That set the Utes offense up with great field position and they capitalized. But, that was the last time they would score as BYU came up short of a historic comeback, falling 35-28 in Bronco Mendenhall’s last game as the Cougars head coach.

The Utes and Cougars will face off in Provo to open the 2019 college football season. The game will begin on Thursday at 8:15 p.m. on ESPN or KSL Newsradio.

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