Brad Rock: The Rock Report: The rivalry on a scale from 1 to 10

Published: Thursday, Sept. 15 2011 6:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Megan, a BYU student majoring in clinical laboratory science, couldn't hold it in.

"Wooooo!" she shouted, "I have FOURTH ROW SEATS! Woo-hoo!"

Her friend Maryelle, a food science major, made a fist and pumped her arm. She plans to be sitting next to Megan on Saturday.

"If you were going to rate this year's Utah-BYU football game on a scale of 1 to 10 —" began the Rock Report.

"TEN!" Maryelle interrupted.

So not everyone thinks the Utah-BYU rivalry is on the fade.

The Rock Report, Utah's top source for insignificant and irrelevant data, was back in business this week. The poll was founded 17 years ago with the high-minded ideal of illuminating sports by interviewing fans, students and/or campus statues.

Seasons may change, alignments come and go, but the Report persists.

This year brought a new angle to an old subject. Normally BYU-Utah is a seismic event in the Beehive State, bigger than a "Twilight" premiere or even a Glenn Beck signing party. With the Utes in the Pac-12 and BYU independent, the main questions put to students at both campuses were: Is this year's rivalry game as big as ever, and who will win?

What the Report discovered was that conference affiliation aside, the students are still invested in their teams. Nine of 10 students interviewed at BYU picked the Cougars to beat the Utes. It was exactly the reverse at Utah, with nine of 10 interviewees going red.

As Alex, a wildlife and wildland conservation major at BYU put it: "Utah is still Utah and BYU is still BYU."

The general consensus at both schools is that they have too much history for this thing to die. But that doesn't mean the game is as important. Utah can still go to the Rose Bowl if it loses to BYU, and BYU will be going to the Armed Forces Bowl regardless. Things didn't used to be that way. As Andrew, a communication major at Utah noted, "There's less significance but the same emotion."

Eight of 10 BYU students rated the game as interesting or more so than other years. At Utah, though, a sort of Pac-12 apathy/superiority seemed to be settling in. Just four of 10 interviewees rated the interest level as high as before.

Madison, an elementary education major at Utah, said the game's appeal has dwindled "because we're playing much bigger teams and we're in a different conference. It's still a rivalry, but it doesn't matter as much."

Neither university appeared to have suffered overt acts of vandalism Wednesday. The Rock Report couldn't even see any inflammatory banners. The most exciting thing happening at BYU was an upcoming comedy club performance, while at Utah they were gearing for a Friday Cobra Starship concert.

If you didn't know better, you'd think it was just a regular early season game.

In the Rock Report, BYU women appeared motivated by emotion, as all five interviewees said interest in the game is as high as always, if not higher. Only one female at Utah made that claim. Three of five men at each campus rated interest in the game high. But Cameron, a physiology and developmental biology major at BYU, did say his interest is "more like a six or seven" on a scale of 10.

Almost as an afterthought, he added: "But BYU can be a measuring stick for Utah."

Of course, so can USC, Arizona State, etc., but that's another subject.

Megan from BYU said the Cougars "have something to prove, because they're independent."

Liz, a ballet and chemistry major at Utah agreed: "BYU needs to prove themselves at that level; we proved ourselves by going to the Pac-12."

The Rock Report is forecasting a backlash on that one.

Matt, a communication major at Utah, said "no" when asked if the game is as big as ever, but added, "A lot of people think we (Utah) are in a much bigger, better situation, but the game will always be symbolic. They'll always be compared."

A comparison that becomes especially interesting when you've scored tickets on Row 4.

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