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August Miller, Deseret News
University of Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is seen during action against TCU at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, Saturday.

Something's got to give when BYU and Utah square off Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

For the second time in their careers as head coaches, Bronco Mendenhall and Kyle Whittingham will match wits in a rubber match. Each has two wins, including one apiece on the opposing field, in head-to-head battles.

It'll be the second time in three years where a coaching tie will be broken in the rivalry.

In 2007, they were 1-1 when the Cougars topped the Utes, 17-10 in Provo.

Given the success of both coaches, the closeness of the series should come as no surprise. Mendenhall is 47-15 as BYU's head coach, while Whittingham is 46-16 at Utah.

The coaches have traditionally shied away from the spotlight, however. Both are fond of shifting the focus to the players.

As for the rivalry, Whittingham delivered some insight after Utah's 38-7 win over San Diego State on Saturday.

"You anticipate it and you look forward to it," he said. "But you've got to keep it in perspective. Every game counts as one. It doesn't count any more than one.

"As soon as they start counting rivalry games as two, then they'll become more important. But right now every game counts as one," Whittingham added.

And though this particular one lacks Mountain West Conference championship implications, both teams are 9-2 overall and 6-1 in league play. BYU is 15th in the coaches poll, 18th in the AP Top 25 and 19th in the Bowl Championship Series standings. Utah, meanwhile, is ranked No. 19 by the coaches and No. 21 by the media. The Utes are 21st in the BCS listing.

If the pollsters are correct, a tight contest is in the forecast.

It remains to be seen, however, if it'll live up to the excitement of three of the four games with Mendenhall and Whittingham calling the shots.

2008 — UTAH 48, BYU 24: At Salt Lake City, Brian Johnson completed 30-of-36 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns as the Utes improved to 12-0 and earned a second trip to the BCS in five years. BYU quarterback Max Hall was 21-of-42 for 205 yards. He was intercepted five times and lost a fumble.

2007 — BYU 17, UTAH 10: At Provo, Hall fared much better in this one. His 49-yard pass to Austin Collie on fourth-and-18 with just over one minute remaining led to Harvey Unga's game-winning 11-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds to go. BYU trailed 10-9 before the score.

2006 — BYU 33, UTAH 31: At Salt Lake City, John Beck's game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass to Jonny Harline came on the final play of the game and well after time expired. The dramatic conclusion gave the Cougars the first of two consecutive outright conference championships.

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2005 — UTAH 41, BYU 34 (OT): At Provo, Mendenhall and Whittingham's first matchup went down to the last play, as it did the following year. After Travis LaTendresse hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Brett Ratliff in overtime, the Utes used a "Circus" defense to prevent the Cougars from countering. The game ended when a pass from Beck intended for Michael Reed in the end zone fluttered to the ground.

The Mendenhall vs. Whittingham era

Rivalry scores since Bronco Mendenhall and Kyle Whittingham became head coaches at BYU and Utah, respectively.

2008: Utah 48, BYU 24 (SLC)

2007: BYU 17, Utah 10 (Provo)

2006: BYU 33, Utah 31 (SLC)

2005: Utah 41, BYU 34 OT (Provo)

Cougars, Utes on the air

No. 22 Utah (9-2, 6-1) at No. 18 BYU (9-2, 6-1)

Saturday, 3 p.m. MT

TV: CBS-C, The mtn.

Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, 700 AM

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com