BYU Cougars v. Utah Utes Rivalry Game: Thanksgiving Weekend Or Bust

Nov 8, 2023, 2:06 PM

BYU Football, Utah Fans...

Utah and BYU Football fans are being tasked with leading their teams to the best college football fan base title. (Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The new Big 12 football scheduling matrix is out.  It covers the next four years and includes all of the conference newcomers.

The conference made the choice to protect four rivalries including BYU/Utah. The other protected rivalries are TCU/Baylor, Arizona/Arizona State, and Kansas/Kansas State.

With the Red River Rivalry no longer a Big 12 property with Texas and Oklahoma going to the SEC, the biggest rivalry instantly becomes Utah versus BYU. The other protected rivalries have nothing on the history of the Cougars and Utes. This game should always be treated as the main event like Ohio State versus Michigan is in the Big Ten.

To make the biggest splash, the Utes/Cougars rivalry should be played on the final weekend of the season. This rivalry is not some regional or small-time game but rather a sizable one that resonates across the country.

It shouldn’t be buried among a random weekend of college football games. It is called Rivalry Weekend for a reason and the new Big 12 should put those big games late in the year and bring back an old tradition between BYU and Utah with the game being traditionally held later in the season.

Utah/BYU: Thanksgiving Weekend Or Bust

Jeremiah Jensen of KSL Sports Zone firmly believes that the higher-ups who make the decision on scheduling will have this game in a prime spot at the end of the season, where it deserves to be played.

“The BYU and ​Utah ​rivalry ​has ​juice. Everybody ​around ​the ​country ​knows the ​Holy ​War,” Jensen said on JJ & Alex. “That’s the ​premier rivalry, but ​there’s ​no ​way! ​There’s ​no ​way! ​Brett ​Yormark, ​Fox ​TV –  remember ​who ​runs ​this ​all? Utah ​doesn’t ​get ​a ​choice. ​BYU ​doesn’t ​get ​a ​choice ​because of ​who ​signs ​the ​checks. So, ​there’s ​no ​way ​that ​game’s ​being ​played ​in ​September. ​That ​game ​will ​be ​played  ​late ​November,  ​probably ​the ​last ​game ​of ​the ​year.”


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FOX and ESPN decide everything about when and where games are broadcast, meaning the Utes and  Cougars show up to play whenever and wherever they are scheduled. With a Big 12 that lost its two high-profile teams to the SEC, there needs to be a replacement game. BYU vs. Utah is not the same as Texas and Oklahoma but it is big enough to be given the treatment of a big-time game.

Alex Kirry, Jensen’s co-host on KSL Sports ZOne, is in agreement that the Cougars and Utes is a season-ending type of game.

“This ​is a ​Thanksgiving weekend game, or it’s a ​Black ​Friday game ​that should ​be ​played ​forevermore ​and happily ​ever ​after,” Kirry said. “​This ​is ​where ​I ​want ​it ​to ​be ​and ​it ​doesn’t ​need ​to ​be ​anywhere ​else ​on ​the ​schedule but last.”

It would be a massive mistake if this game were to be played in early October and played in that late time window which limits exposure. The only other weekend that could make sense to promote this game would be to play it Labor Day night in that Monday Night Football spot before the NFL takes over on ESPN.

Realistically, this game is the most visible one in the new Big 12 and if it is any other day than the final weekend of the season then it is a major fail by Yormark and the conference.

Tune into JJ & Alex every Monday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM, or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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BYU Cougars v. Utah Utes Rivalry Game: Thanksgiving Weekend Or Bust