Everybody knows about the thrilling last-minute plays in the annual Utah-BYU series since 1993, from Chris Yergensen's 55-yard field goal to Ryan Kaneshiro's doink to the John Beck-to-Jonny Harline pass a year ago.
However, every game has its share of plays that could have made a difference, but they get lost in the shuffle because of the memorable moments at the end of the gameRecognizing that there are several "what-if" moments in every game, here are some of the key forgotten plays in six of the most memorable games in Ute-Cougar history, all from the past 14 years.
2006: BYU 33, Utah 31
WHAT WE REMEMBER: Beck's 12-second scramble and pass to Harline for the winning score.
WHAT IF Utah's Paul Soliai had not blocked a BYU extra point early in the fourth quarter? That left the score 24-20 for the Utes, so after both teams scored again, it was 31-27 for the Utes. If it had been 31-28, the Cougars likely would have gone for the game-tying field goal with three seconds left and taken their chances in overtime.
2005: Utah 41, BYU 34, OT
WHAT WE REMEMBER: Brett Ratliff's 25-yard pass to Travis LaTendresse and John Beck's floater falling into the end zone to give Utah a 41-34 overtime victory.
WHAT IF Curtis Brown held onto the pass thrown from Beck on the first play of the game? Brown got behind the Ute defense but dropped a wide-open pass from Beck that would likely have gone for a touchdown. If the Cougars had taken a quick 7-0 lead, the Utes may never have gotten untracked and raced to that 24-3 halftime lead.
2000: BYU 34, Utah 27
WHAT WE REMEMBER: Brandon Doman's fourth-and-17 pass completion to Jonathan Pittman, which started an improbable drive in the final minute that culminated in a 34-27 victory in LaVell Edwards' final game.
WHAT IF there was instant replay in college football at the time? On the play before Doman's long pass to Pittman, BYU runner Luke Staley appeared to fumble, but to Utah's chagrin and BYU's relief it wasn't called. Would a replay have reversed the call or proved to be inconclusive? We'll never know.
1998: BYU 26, Utah 24
WHAT WE REMEMBER: Ryan Kaneshiro's 32-yard field goal bouncing off the right upright in the final seconds, leaving the Cougars two-point winners, rather than one-point losers.
WHAT IF Utah receiver Daniel Jones didn't insist on wiggling his hips following a 43-yard reception with a minute left, supposedly to impress his grandmother watching on TV? That celebration penalty moved the Utes back 15 yards from the BYU 24 to the 39. Since the Utes eventually got to the 15, perhaps they would have scored a touchdown with those 15 extra yards or at least been several yards closer for Kaneshiro's ill-fated kick.
1994: Utah 34, BYU 31
WHAT WE REMEMBER: Utah's Cal Beck taking the kickoff and returning it 57 yards to the 32-yard line to set up Utah's winning touchdown.
WHAT IF Utah's Bronzell Miller didn't break through to sack John Walsh and force a fumble with 10 seconds left? Walsh had driven the Cougars to the Ute 34 with 17 seconds left, and one more pass would have put BYU in field-goal range for a game-tying touchdown. It could have been 34-34 or even 38-34 if BYU had reached the end zone.
1993: Utah 34, BYU 31
WHAT WE REMEMBER: Yergensen's 55-yard field goal to give Utah a 34-31 victory.
WHAT IF Yergensen's long field goal had not hooked left as it headed toward the goalposts. Fans forget there were still 25 seconds left when Yergensen's FG split the uprights. If the field goal misses, the Cougars get the ball at their own 38 with enough time to perhaps move 25 yards to get into field goal range for their own 55-yarder. Perhaps it would have been a 34-31 BYU victory instead, and the Utes wouldn't have turned the tide in the rivalry that has seen them win nine of the past 14 years.
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