KSL UNRIVALED

With Pac-12 Change, Could BYU And Utah Play Rivalry Game In 2020?

Nov 18, 2020, 2:22 PM
BYU Cougars - Utah Utes...
(Courtesy of BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
(Courtesy of BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Let’s dream for a minute that 2020 hasn’t been … well… 2020. We would currently be wrapping up a college football season with just a few games left and there would be fighting over the College Football Playoff rankings so far.

Instead, games are being canceled and moved around on the fly at the very last minute. However, there is some positive news on that front – it is likely the Pac-12 will now allow member institutions to schedule non-conference games. Utah has yet to play a game and other Pac-12 teams have also missed games due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

That good news comes from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News.

“According to the report, Pac-12 Athletic Directors have agreed on the decision but there is one step left to allow non-conference opponents – presidents and chancellors, who originally stopped non-conference play because of the COVID-19 pandemic, must approve the change.”

This would help the Pac-12 stay relevant and play games that were canceled. It has been proven the league can make a game work on the fly when Cal and UCLA’s games were canceled and the two met up on Sunday to play. There is an opportunity this week as Utah State’s game vs. Wyoming is canceled and Arizona State vs. Colorado got cut – there could be an opening for Colorado to play Wyoming. Yet, the league has not made anything official.

Could A Utah/BYU Rivalry Game Happen In 2020 After All?

This is where the good news might help Utah and BYU. Currently, the Utes have games scheduled through the rest of the season, but BYU has open dates on November 28 and December 5. Arizona State has had some issues with COVID-19 and has missed two games. Who knows if the team will be healthy enough to play the Utes on November 28.

Odds are that Arizona State will have enough players to be healthy enough to play Utah. That is why there are lots of naysayers about this game happening.

If 2020 has taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected.

There are two thoughts from the BYU side about wanting to play this game. If it were on the table, the Cougars could add the 11th team, and only Power 5 team for the schedule which could help their strength of schedule. If BYU were to get the win it would give them more credibility compared to who they have already beat.

On the flip side, BYU would be risking a loss that not only would 100 percent eliminate them from the College Football Playoff talk, but any hope of a New Year’s Six bowl game is likely out the window as well with BYU needing to be ranked right around the 10th spot.

KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry pointed out that the Utes likely want nothing to do with BYU, especially because the Utes still haven’t played a game and are breaking in a lot of new talent this year.

“BYU fan feels very confident, feel very comfortable right now saying, ‘bring on Utah’… What I’m saying is that I would never play this game,” Kirry said. “Aside from the fact that they are shorthanded, they can see the writing on the wall here. If you knew exactly that, this would not benefit you at all.”

“The point is this. If you’re going out there and searching for a game that you one – don’t need to with a team that doesn’t have the same type of testing protocol. If you are BYU you would have to live by the Pac-12 testing protocols.”

Does Either Team Even Need This Game?

Playing more games would be beneficial for both teams but there is a lot more on the table for the Cougars than the Utes. The fans would love this game to happen because it could either extend Utah’s winning streak to 10 games over BYU or the Cougars could end their dismal performances against their rival.

Utah will likely go to a random bowl game but for the Cougars, they have a real shot to go to a New Year’s Six game and if a dozen or so other things go their way, a berth in the College Football Playoff with an undefeated record.

“They’re likely going to go 10-0 and they’re likely going to be at least in a very, very good bowl game. It’s still been an amazing year for BYU in the end, but if you’re a BYU fan, go back and look at the schedule that used to be and look at where those teams are now. I’m telling you, BYU could have absolutely gone undefeated with that schedule, just like they are with this one,” said Kirry.

BYU is still in the market to add games and athletics director Tom Holmoe said as much by referencing the Cougars flexibility.

“I really haven’t had the discussions, but I’ve talked to so many of those people through the scheduling process. What I’ve tried to convey to all the people in the country is we’re just going to be mobile; we’re going to be flexible. There are so many things that we can do by not being in a conference. So just keep an eye on us.”

Anything can happen in this college football season and while it would be fun to see this rivalry get played there are a lot of things standing in the way.

Tune into KSL Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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With Pac-12 Change, Could BYU And Utah Play Rivalry Game In 2020?