Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
PROVO — Being an independent, BYU has no conference championship to play for — which makes Saturday’s game against Utah even more important.
The Cougars are aiming for a state championship.
In order to achieve that, BYU must beat Utah, then defeat Utah State on Oct. 4 in Logan.
“I think the state championship is really important, being independent, especially,” said coach Bronco Mendenhall. “Our players have made that something they value. I support that and I’d love to help them do that. If you can win the state, that’s a nice springboard to national prominence because there is some good football in the state.”
“It means a lot, especially for the team,” senior defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna said of the rivalry. “One of our biggest goals is to win the state. We know this is a big challenge for us. It’s been a challenge for a lot of years. There’s a lot at stake.”
MEMORY LANE: While the Cougars have lost three straight games to Utah, Manumaleuna has been part of one win over the Utes — way back in 2007.
“I was a freshman, my first experience for me in the rivalry game. It was physical and challenging,” he recalled. “I remember the 4th-and-18 play, with Max Hall and Austin Collie. I was celebrating. The year before we won at the last second. You don’t settle down at all until the clock hits zero. It’s going to be a challenging game and it might go down to the wire. If we prepare better than they do, we’ll come out on top.”
THE BREAK: After Saturday’s game, the BYU-Utah series will take a two-year hiatus for the first time since the 1940s, when BYU did not field a team from 1943-45 due to World War II. The series will resume in 2016 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
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