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Dave Moncion and Mo Mqomboti, DDM

SALT LAKE CITY AND PROVO — Okay, Utah fan, time for the toughest quiz of the season, er, semester. No grading on a curve, either. Ready? Here goes:

What do you admire most about BYU as a school?

Don't think you get off any easier, BYU fan. Same question: What do you admire most about the U.?

Let's strip away all that fanly fan bluster, and the pain you felt the last time the other side won a football game, and consider for a minute the national and international reputations of two of the state's flagship institutions, what they do for each other, for the Wasatch Front and beyond and some of the similarities they share.

Did you know that 299 of the 2,134 students pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Utah right now are BYU grads?

(Boy, this is a tough quiz.)

That means BYU students comprise 14 percent of the U's graduate programs, a fact that burnishes BYU's reputation. In fact, the Provo school ranks 10th in the country for most graduates who go on to seek master's or doctoral degrees.

"We certainly have high respect for the University of Utah, and we have a high respect for what they do academically," said Todd Hollingshead, information and financial manager for BYU Communications.

Utah's academics aren't all academic, either. The U. is the nation's best school at spinning the technology and innovation generated in campus labs into startup companies, according to the annual report of the Association of University Technology Managers.

A study by the U.'s business school this year found that university startup companies have a major impact on the Utah economy. In 2009, the study found, those companies directly or indirectly generated 15,767 jobs, $754.5 million in personal income and $76.6 million in tax revenue.

Innovation plays a major role at BYU, too. The Wall Street Journal ranked BYU's graduate entrepreneurship program No. 4 in the nation, and its undergraduate business programs 11th.

Another similarity is found in the two universities' business schools, which attract outstanding prospective accountants and Fortune 500 companies recruiting accounting students.

BYU's accounting program is ranked first in recruiting and both Utah's undergraduate and graduate accounting programs finished in the top 25 in the same survey done by the Wall Street Journal.

Some of BYU's and Utah's differences also reflect well on the state.

The U. claims the only medical school in Utah, and one draped in honors, awards and high rankings in a number of specialities, including a No. 1 ranking in health care by the prestigious University Healthsystem Consortium and a Nobel Prize awarded to Utah professor Dr. Mario R. Capecchi for his work on a gene targeting technique at the U.

The U.'s overall reputation as a research institution brings international credit to the state. The U. ranks 79th in the International Academic Ranking of Universities by the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The ranking takes into account highly cited researchers at a university, graduates who received Nobel Prizes and the number of published research papers listed in the Citation Index-Expanded (SCIE) and Social Science Citation Index (SSCI).

BYU's reputation as a strong undergraduate teaching institution was reflected in this week's new national university rankings by U.S. News & World Report, which listed BYU 71st in the nation, just behind Clemson, Rutgers and Minnesota and tied with Michigan State, Iowa and Virginia Tech, all of them storied campuses founded in the 1800s or earlier.

"We're different but the same in the respect that we have a lot of highly ranked and highly regarded programs nationally," said U. media relations specialist Remi Barron.

Both schools have picked up some bragging rights to some non-academic awards, too. The U. was named No. 3 for greenest campus power by no less than the Environmental Protection Agency. BYU placed fourth on the U.S. News list for the lowest debt students carry at graduation.

Barron argues that BYU and Utah's rivalry doesn't really extend further than the playing field because both schools provide varying but enriching educational experience.

"We have a lot of different programs. They're good at a lot of things students look for," Barron said. "Sure it's a big rivalry on the field, but academically, not so much."

For more of BYU's academic rankings and merits, go to yfacts.byu.edu/viewarticle.aspx?id=282.

For more of Utah's academic rankings and merits, go to unews.utah.edu/rankings.

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