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BYU football notebook: BYU aiming for a state championship

Published: Saturday, Aug. 29 2015 1:34 p.m. MDT

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (4) celebrates his touchdown   in Provo  Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (4) celebrates his touchdown in Provo Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. (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.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company