Amy Donaldson: We need to keep the Utah Utes-BYU Cougars rivalry

Published: Sunday, Sept. 16 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

"It's uncanny," he said when asked to distinguish the contest from other rivalry games. "It's just another dramatic end; it's happened so many times. I don't know if you'll find a rivalry in the country that's had the drama that this one has had in the last 15-20 years. I could be wrong, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find one that has the story lines. These games take on a life of their own."

That life springs from the guys who clash and from the coaches who lead them. But it also springs from the hearts of those who have never played a down of football, who have no idea how it feels to catch a touchdown pass or recover from a hit that you feel for days.

Fans pay money, rain or shine, to stand in line, sit on plastic or metal seats, and ruin their vocal cords hoping their desire can will someone they don't know to excellence.

They celebrate the triumph of great plays by Star Lotulelei or Cody Hoffman. They feel the pain and disappointment that sends a guy like JD Falslev to his knees after a loss.

They don't have the skills. But they have the heart. And they love this game. They love what it means to their families, to their communities. And most importantly, they deserve this game.

Defensive back Moe Lee was playing in his first BYU-Utah rivalry game. He'd heard the stories, but it was something he had to experience to understand.

"It was the best ever," he told reporters after the game. "This is the best atmosphere I ever played in in my life. I finally felt the Utah-BYU experience for the first time, and I'm just glad we came out with the victory."

It's not just a game; it's a cultural celebration unique to this state. We created it, year after year, and I hope we find a way to save it.

As one of the narrators said in the documentary "Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Rivalry," the game is "a beautiful thing. You feel you are a part of something that stretches from before you existed and will be here long after you are gone."

Twitter: adonsports Email: adonaldson@desnews.com

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