SALT LAKE CITY — For 55 years, starting in 1903, the Utah football team didn't play anyone more consistently than the University of Colorado. Every year but one from '03 until 1958, the Utes and Buffaloes met on the gridiron.
BYU? The Utes didn't start playing the Cougars regularly until 1922.
Utah State? The Utes didn't play the Aggies a couple times during the two World Wars or in 1908.
But Utah and Colorado played every year except in 1909 until 1958 and after skipping a couple years, again in 1961 and 1962.
Then the series went dark for 49 years.
Thanks to the two schools' inclusion into the Pac-12 Conference, the "rivalry" will be finally be resurrected this week at Rice-Eccles Stadium when the Utes and Buffaloes play at 1:30 p.m.
Bud Scalley, the father of Utah assistant coach Morgan Scalley, played in those final two games against Colorado — both Utah wins — and says he couldn't imagine at the time that it would be the last game between the two schools for 49 years.
"That's a long time," Scalley said, who reminisced recently about the final two games of the Utah-Colorado series. "Our main rival was Utah State back then, but Colorado was a rival."
The 1961 game in Boulder might have been the biggest in the 57-game series, at least from Utah's standpoint.
The Utes hadn't beaten Colorado since 1948 and went into that game 5-3 having just lost back-to-back games to Wyoming and New Mexico. On the other hand, Colorado was undefeated, having its best season in 24 years and was ranked No. 8 in the country, on its way to the Orange Bowl.
The Salt Lake Tribune account of the game called it "one of the biggest in Utah's football history" and said "few teams in the nation could have beaten the Utes" on that Saturday afternoon.
The Utes spotted the Buffaloes a quick 6-0 lead, but scored 21 straight points with a touchdown in each quarter. The first came on an 18-yard pass from Gary Hertzfeldt to Jerry Overton, the next two on runs up the middle by Doug Wasko. A late touchdown by the Buffaloes didn't matter and the Utes went home with a huge 21-12 victory.
Afterward Utah coach Ray Nagel said "Our team had the potential to play like this all year, but this is the first time we've put everything together."
Scalley said, he'll "never forget" that game, which included such Utes as tackle George Seifert, the future San Francisco 49ers coach and end Marv Fleming, the four-time Super Bowl winner. But Scalley had a harder time recalling the details of the 1962 game when he played a big part of the outcome.
That game was played on Sept. 22, in Salt Lake, in the season opener.
The lead changed hands five times in the first half before the Utes took a 24-13 halftime lead. The field goal was kicked by future NFL wide receiver star Roy Jefferson.
In the third quarter, the Utes "crossed up the defense" when halfback Scalley took a pitchout from Hertzfeldt and then hit Dan Spinazzola for a touchdown. In the final quarter, the Utes' final score came on a five-yard scamper by Scalley around the end.
"Someone said I scored, but I can't remember that," Scalley said.
He also said he didn't remember throwing the TD pass, to which his son Morgan said, "That's because he didn't have a good arm."
The first-ever game between Utah and Colorado was played in 1903 in Boulder with the Buffaloes winning 22-0. Colorado easily won the next two years, outscoring Utah by combined score of 79-11.
However, before a crowd of 3,000 at Cummings Field, the Utes picked up their first victory over the Buffaloes in 1906, winning by a 10-0 margin in late November under adverse conditions.
The newspaper account of the game, which described almost every play of the entire game in detail, said the field was covered with "mud and slush from two to six inches in depth" and that "it was impossible to distinguish one player from another."
The conditions were so bad that "the men of both teams would pile on top of (the ball carrier) and he was squashed into the mud and at times entirely disappeared. Time would be called to wash out his eyes and mouth and then the game would proceed."
Back then, touchdowns only counted as five points (it changed to six in 1912) and the Utes made two touchdowns, by Russell and Pitt (no first names were used in the story). However because of the "impossible" conditions, Utah missed both extra points.
According to the newspaper report, "the snow and cold weather had no effect upon the people, who went wild with enthusiasm when it was seen that Utah was better than Colorado and would win the game."
Utah won nine straight from 1925 to 1933, the longest winning streak in the series. By 1948, a 14-12 victory in Salt Lake, Utah led the series 22-21-2. But Colorado didn't lose to Utah for a decade, winning nine games and tying another between 1949 and 1958, before Utah came up with the final two victories.
Friday's game is being billed as the "Rumble in the Rockies" as marketing and PR folks are trying their best to build a rivalry or revive an old one.
It may take awhile.
"It's a different feel," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "I don't think you can manufacture a rivalry game. It's something that has to naturally come about. It's not something you can force to happen, but we'll see how things work out."
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