Steve Young: BYU/Utah Football Rivalry ‘Cuts Deep Every Year’

Sep 8, 2021, 12:04 AM | Updated: 12:18 am
Steve Young - BYU...
Steve Young puts a BYU Football helmet on at a Fireside at BYU in honor of him being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame Saturday July 30, 2005 at the Smith Field House in Provo. (Photo by Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)
(Photo by Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – When Steve Young was slinging the rock for BYU football, the Cougars dominated their rival. During the 80s, it wasn’t about who would win the annual rivalry game; the question was, how much would BYU win by?

These days, it’s quite a bit different. Utah is on a nine-game winning streak and hasn’t lost to the Cougars since Twilight movies were all the rage. But that doesn’t take away from the intensity of the annual rivalry game for BYU legends like Steve Young.

Young hopped on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Tuesday night to discuss the BYU-Utah rivalry with SC anchor Ashley Brewer. First, Brewer revisited some of the memorable rivalry games between the Utes and Cougars over the years in a “Campus Classics” highlight package to promote Saturday night’s game, which will air on ESPN (8:15 p.m.). Then Brewer asked Young, who works at ESPN as an NFL analyst, “for those of us that don’t understand how deep does this rivalry go?”

Steve Young on the depth of the BYU/Utah rivalry

“Let’s say there’s a really big, tight family. Some are devout religious, some are very devout not religious,” Young said on the September 7 night edition of SportsCenter. “Some are older, some are younger, and every year, there’s this time when they all have to come together and battle, and whoever wins gets to kind of like, you know, stick it to the other part of the family for the rest of the year. That’s the depth of this.”

Young was the starting quarterback in two BYU-Utah games in 1982 and 1983. He was 2-0 in those starts. Highlighted by his final home game as a BYU Cougar in 1983 when the Cougars rolled through Utah 55-7.

“This goes back 60, 70, 80 years,” Young said. “In the first 25 years, Utah just ran over BYU. Then all of a sudden, it switched. BYU got the quarterbacks in Gifford Nielsen, Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, myself, and others. And all of a sudden, it was our 25 years where we just ran over Utah. I was like, ‘Oh, we ran the state!’ Then it was kind of tough. In the 90s and 2000s, it was back and forth. It was like the interstate rivalry you talk about all the time. Then lately, it’s been all Utah. Whatever happens in the Utah-BYU game, it cuts deep, you know? I don’t know how else to talk about it. But it’s not just a flesh wound. It cuts deep every year.”

Young is rolling with BYU

When asked to predict Saturday night’s 95th meeting between the two rivals separated by just 45 miles, Young is going with his alma mater BYU to end the streak.

“Look! We’re gonna end the drought. Utah was afraid last year because they were afraid of Zach Wilson. Now that Zach’s gone, they’re gonna play us again. I still pick BYU.”

Utah leads the all-time football series over BYU 59-31-4. To highlight how little the two schools agree on, Utah has the total record at 62-34-4 in favor of the Utes.

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

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