For just the third year in the 100-plus years that Utah and BYU have been playing football, the two rivals are ranked in the Top 25 at the same time.
When the Utes joined the Cougars in the Top 25 Tuesday, it marked the first time in a dozen years that the two have graced the rankings together. The only other time was two years earlier in 1994 when both schools were ranked much of the season.
The last time Utah and BYU football teams were ranked at the same time was 12 seasons ago when the Cougars were ranked No. 13 and Utah was No. 20 in the AP on Oct. 28, 1996.
The Utes had climbed back from an opening loss to Utah State and stood 7-1. However, later that week Utah was sent packing from the Top 25 thanks to a 51-10 thumping by Rice, of all teams, in the Rice Bowl in Houston.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was around the other two times the Utes were ranked at the same time as his alma mater when he was an assistant coach under Ron McBride. He said earlier this week that he doesn't see any significance to the fact that both are ranked, other than it helps the Mountain West Conference, and tries to downplay the whole idea of rankings while trying to focus on just the next game.
"It's a big deal to our players and fans and it's great to be recognized," Whittingham said. "Recruiting-wise, absolutely, no doubt about that, it helps. But outside of that, it doesn't get you any points."
Utah quarterback Brian Johnson said his coach mentioned the ranking briefly the day the news came out, but that the Utes are trying not to dwell on it.
"It's huge for the players to get that recognition and get the respect of other people around the country that we're a top football team," he said. "I think this team is mature enough to handle that success when it comes and realize this happens only when we win."
For the BYU program, being ranked is nothing new. This marks the 23rd year BYU has been ranked in the Top 25 since the Cougars were first ranked in 1974. However over the next 20 years, the Utes never sniffed the Top 25 until 1994 when they received their first ranking since the 1947 season when they slipped into the No. 18 spot late in the season.
The Utes started 8-0 that season and climbed as high as No. 9 in early November before losing back-to-back games against New Mexico and Air Force. BYU hovered between 20 and 25 much of the season, before jumping to No. 18 in the final AP poll and to No. 10 in the UPI poll. Utah finished at No. 10 in AP and No. 8 in the UPI (coaches) poll.
In 1996, BYU began at 19 and after falling out of the rankings in Week 4 after a loss to Washington, they climbed back in the next week at No. 24 and inched their way back, making the top 10 on Nov. 11 and finally finishing at No. 5 after winning the Cotton Bowl.
Former BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco was an assistant coach in 1994 and 1996 when the Cougars and Utes were last ranked. He remembers those seasons, but thinks it's too early to get too excited about the two local teams sitting in the Top 25 in early September."Let's revisit it in about four or six weeks and see what the rankings are because they will be more meaningful," he said. "Right now they don't mean very much. If both BYU and Utah are ranked in a month, let's all break out and enjoy the excitement of what may be at the end."
BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco, was an assistant coach in 1994 and 1996
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