A BYU-Utah rematch in the postseason? Fight Hunger Bowl executive director doesn't rule it out

Published: Friday, Oct. 18 2013 2:50 p.m. MDT

Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Uani 'Unga (41) chases Utah Utes wide receiver Dres Anderson (6) during NCAA football in Provo Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. (Andrew J. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Uani 'Unga (41) chases Utah Utes wide receiver Dres Anderson (6) during NCAA football in Provo Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. (Andrew J. Allred, Deseret News)

Forget waiting until September 2016 for another BYU-Utah football game.

How about a Cougars-Utes matchup on Dec. 27 in San Francisco?

In his "ask the executive director" segment on the bowl's website, Fight Hunger Bowl executive director Gary Cavalli recently answered a BYU fan's question about the possibility of the Cougars and Utes meeting up this postseason in the Bay area.

Cavalli told Rich N. the group would not rule out a rematch between the Cougars and Utes, who both enter this weekend with 4-2 records and in need of two wins to become bowl-eligible.

This year's Fight Hunger Bowl will feature BYU, if it becomes bowl-eligible, against a Pac-12 opponent, opening the possibility for the rivalry rematch.

"I have tremendous respect for head coach Kyle Whittingham and athletic director Chris Hill," Cavalli said. "On the other side, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe is an old friend of mine. So we have strong connections to both schools."

Both teams play four of their final six games on the road, with BYU headed to Houston and Utah playing at Arizona on Saturday.

Cavalli cited this year's game between Utah and BYU, a 20-13 Ute victory, and the rivalry taking a two-year, regular-season hiatus until 2016 as reasons for a potential matchup in December.

"Normally, you'd avoid a repeat matchup, but this one is a little unique because of the closeness of the game, the fact it was early in the season, the intensity of the rivalry and the fact that the teams won't be playing each other the next couple of years," the executive director said.

BYU has experienced a repeat opponent in its bowl game during the Bronco Mendenhall era. In 2007, the Cougars lost to UCLA 27-17 in September, only to meet the Bruins in that year's Las Vegas Bowl. BYU won the rematch 17-16, then beat UCLA again, this time 59-0, early in the 2008 season.

That meant in a 15-game span, the Cougars and Bruins played three times.

Bowl-game matchups rarely involve pitting in-state rivals against each other, let alone rematches during any particular season. In the past 20 years, though, the state of Florida has seen its fair share of these contests.

Florida and Florida State met in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2, 1997, after playing in the '96 regular-season finale. That day, the No. 3 Gators avenged an earlier loss to the top-ranked Seminoles by winning a 52-20 blowout to earn the school's first national championship.

Two years prior, Florida and Florida State also played in the Sugar Bowl after meeting earlier in the season.

Since the early 2000s, three bowl games have pitted two of the Sunshine State's top three college football programs: Florida-Miami in the 2001 Sugar Bowl, Miami-Florida State in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 2004, and Florida-Miami in the 2004 Peach Bowl.

Current national bowl projections do not have the Cougars and Utes matching up this postseason. USA Today's Erick Smith has BYU playing USC in the Fight Hunger Bowl, with Utah — coming off a 27-21 victory over No. 5 Stanford — playing Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl.

ESPN's Mark Schlabach is also slating a BYU-USC matchup in San Francisco, as does his colleague, Brad Edwards. Schlabach has Utah facing Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl.

CBS Sports' Jerry Palm's bowl projections, updated Oct. 12, include BYU playing Oregon State in San Francisco, with Utah left out.

A BYU-Utah contest in the Fight Hunger Bowl would pit two programs that are enjoying the most successful bowl-game stretches in school history.

The Cougars have won six of their past seven bowl games, including a 23-6 victory over San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl last year. The Utes have won 10 of their past 11 bowl games, including a 30-27 overtime win over Georgia Tech in the 2011 Sun Bowl.

Email: bjudd@deseretnews.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd

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