Cancel The Series: BYU, Utah Gain Nothing From Playing Each Other

Sep 27, 2019, 3:36 PM

Britain Covey vs. BYU...

Utah’s Britain Covey (18) heads upfield after fielding a punt during the Utah-BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

(Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah and BYU series has had a complicated relationship since the two teams left the Mountain West. KSL’s UnRivaled and Cougar Tracks host Mitch Harper said canceling the series would be best for both schools.

Since 2011 the teams have played nearly every year and when they have played the Utes have won every single game.

Utah has a non-conference scheduling philosophy with an A, B and C game. More often than not the Cougars are the A game followed by a Group of 5 team as B and an FCS foe as the C game.

This season the schedule looked this for Utah:

  • A- BYU, Utah won 30-12
  • B- Northern Illinois, Utah won 35-17
  • C- Idaho State, Utah won 35-0

With the Utes making BYU its top-rated game it takes away the chance to play more high-profile, non-conference games. For example – the games Utah scheduled with Florida required them to push the BYU games.

Adding the Gators to the schedule made them the A game.

No Benefit To BYU

KSL Sports Mitch Harper joined KSL’s UnRivaled and reminded them that Notre Dame still owes BYU a game in Provo. Now – 2022 has an open date that the Fighting Irish could fit into.

“I think a neutral site game could be in play and BYU has shown in the independence era they can get games in NFL venues against Power 5 programs,” Harper said. “There is still a game needed between BYU and Notre Dame. [BYU athletics director] Tom Holmoe has said in the past this will game not be paid out and the game will be played some time, somewhere and Notre Dame has three open dates in 2022.”

BYU playing and defeating Notre Dame would carry more weight nationally than beating Utah.

“Yeah, [this game should go away forever] I really think this game does not benefit either party involved,” Harper said. “For BYU, the thought of beating a Power 5 team — they do that already — they have beaten Wisconsin’s, USC’s and Tennessee’s. USC has more national prestige than a Utah. That will do more for BYU as a program beating a USC than a Utah. Yes, locally ending the streak and the rival and all that is great.”

If the Cougars had beat the Utes and USC this year – USC would have been the bigger win even if Utah was supposed to be a better team, according to the Cougar Tracks host.

Utah Winning Has Become Status Quo

The Utes just beat the Cougars for the ninth-straight time and there was not much gained from the win besides bragging rights. A loss would do more harm to the Utes but defeating the Cougars has become the status quo, according to UnRivaled.

Beating BYU does not move the needle outside the state but Utah toppling an SEC team like Florida carries more weight – even if the Gators happen to be bad – than beating a really good Cougars team.

“For Utah, they need to add more novelty to their scheduling and give their fans more exciting schedules. You can not play nine Pac-12 games, BYU and an FCS year after year and say ‘keep spending all of this money on tickets,'” Harper said. “Getting a Florida was smart for [Utah athletics director] Mark Harlan, that is a great move. The problem for BYU is that they have let Utah completely dictate the terms [of this series].”

Same State, Different Goals

With BYU being independent and Utah in the Pac-12, the schools have different goals in mind.

The Utes need to beef up their schedule and have more high profile games to help their goal of making a New Year’s Six Bowl or a College Football Playoff.

BYU is wanting to play coast to coast for its football schedule.

“Each program is playing on different playing fields. Utah has different goals and BYU is trying to take its approach more national and play all of these different programs across the country,” Harper added.” BYU has shown they can get great opponents in September, so why bog it down with Utah who clearly shows they will bounce any chance they get in this rivalry game.”

Listen to the full discussion below.

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

  • Utah Utes Scoreboard

  • Utah Utes Team Leaders

  • Utah Utes Standings

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

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Cancel The Series: BYU, Utah Gain Nothing From Playing Each Other