When the players got off the bus that day, they didn’t walk off; they ran up to the locker room. Everybody was anxious that day to get to that stadium and play that game. —Former Utah coach Ron McBride, on the 1993 BYU-Utah contest
SALT LAKE CITY — Few — if any — rivalries in college football have produced more memorable games over the past two decades than the BYU-Utah rivalry.
Let’s see, there were the two 34-31 games, the Kaneshiro doink, LaVell’s last miracle, the late-game Staley TD runs, Ronnie Mac’s final game victory, the 3-0 snow bowl, an unlikely Utah overtime win in Provo, Beck-to-Harline, Hall-to-George (and "I hate Utah"), the Burton block, and last year's dual do-overs before the Stephenson doink.
“Almost every year it seems it comes down to the last play or last series of plays,’’ said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.”It’s uncanny how many games in the last 20 years have gone right down to the wire. You’d be hard-pressed to find any rivalry that has had the amount of exciting finishes this one has had.’’
Up until the past two decades, the Utah-BYU game was nothing special. If fact, you could hardly call it a rivalry for 70 years or so.
It was a given that Utah was the superior team for most of four decades as the Utes won year after year. In the first 16 official years of the series starting in the 1920s, the Utes won 15 times (the other was a 0-0 tie) and outscored the Cougars by an astounding 465-39 total.
The dominance continued until the mid-1960s, as the Cougars won a grand total of two games in the series while the Utes won contests by margins such as 35-6, 38-0, 34-6 and 41-6.
The schools were pretty even for six or seven years, before the worm turned in the early 1970s when LaVell Edwards took over at BYU. The Cougars immediately started beating up the Utes like the Utes had done to them for decades. Scores of 38-8, 51-20, 27-0, 55-7 and 56-6 were among the beatings the Cougars laid on the Utes.
But everything changed on a cold, sunny afternoon in Provo 20 years ago with one amazing kick.
The rivalry has never been the same since.