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Utah, USU football: Friday's game may not have been the last battle of brothers

Published: Saturday, Aug. 1 2015 2:50 p.m. MDT

Travis Wilson of the University of Utah scrambles against Utah State during NCAA football in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Travis Wilson of the University of Utah scrambles against Utah State during NCAA football in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah and Utah State have now met on the football field 111 times. It’s the 12th longest-running rivalry in major college football and the oldest series for both schools.

Even so, the “Battle of the Brothers” faces an uncertain future. The only contracted meeting after Thursday’s game at Rice-Eccles Stadium is a 2015 date in Salt Lake City.

“It’s great for football in the state. It’s one of the storied rivalries in the country when you think about longevity, right? So we would love the opportunity to extend this in some way,” said Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes. “... But we want to take every measure to see if we can extend this down the line in a home-and-home fashion.”

Home-and-home, he added, is the way it has to be.

Utah State University players warm up before their game against the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Utah State University players warm up before their game against the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Utah bought out of a scheduled game in Logan next season when an opportunity to add Michigan (in Ann Arbor in 2014 and Salt Lake City in 2015) developed. The Utes have five Pac-12 road games next year and could only have one non-conference away date in order to have at least six home games.

It’s all part of a balancing act that has developed since Utah joined the Pac-12, which schedules nine league games each season — leaving teams with just three non-conference slots.

Utah athletic director Chris Hill acknowledged that it makes it hard to figure out how to balance playing BYU, USU and do the things the Utes want to do with other scheduling.

As such, Hill admits he doesn’t have a lot of answers right now. Utah may be the only team in the nation with a nine-game conference schedule and two in-state rivalry games on the docket.

Quarterback Travis Wilson of the Utah Utes warms up before the game against Utah State University in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Quarterback Travis Wilson of the Utah Utes warms up before the game against Utah State University in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

“It doesn’t make sense not to play them,” said Hill, who noted that the key is figuring out how to blend it in with everything else.

“Obviously today’s game is a big deal,” he continued. “So I can’t see us not playing them frequent enough to keep it a good rivalry.”

Except for 1943 (when neither school had a team because of World War II), Utah and Utah State squared off each year from 1919-2009. A two-year break followed before the series resumed last season in Logan.

The future, though, is clouded by both programs being in new conference situations — the Aggies are now in the Mountain West.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to sit down and visit and see if there’s some things in the future we can figure out,” said Barnes, who noted that Utah and Utah State have yet to lock down and look at future calendars. “It’s a work in progress. (We’ll) see if we can figure it out.”

The University of Utah and Utah State University players warm up before NCAA football in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) The University of Utah and Utah State University players warm up before NCAA football in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Hill agrees.

“We’ve had some discussion but nothing brass tacks,” he said. “We’re both trying to feel it out.”

OUT FOR THE SEASON: Utah wide receiver Kenneth Scott was lost for the season with a lower leg injury. The junior was injured in the first quarter.

QUICK STRIKE: Just three minutes into the game Utah was able to do what 13 teams could not do to Utah State last season, score a first-quarter touchdown. Dres Anderson hauled in a 4-yard touchdown from Travis Wilson at the 11:43 mark to end the streak for the Aggies, which dated back to Nov. 19, 2011 at Idaho. Overall the Aggies allowed only nine first-quarter points in 2012.

EXTRA POINTS: The attendance was 45,237 ... Scouts from the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans were credentialed for the game ... Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson worked from the coaches’ booth in the press box, something he hadn’t done since serving as San Jose State’s offensive coordinator in 1981.

Quarterback Chuckie Keeton of the Utah State Aggies warms up before the game against the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Quarterback Chuckie Keeton of the Utah State Aggies warms up before the game against the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Contributing: Kraig Williams

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