SALT LAKE CITY — As far as rivalry games go, the Beehive Bowl isn’t the most notable or historic contest on the Utah college football landscape. And yet, that doesn’t change how meaningful the game is.
Just ask the Southern Utah Thunderbirds.
The T-Birds were virtually guaranteed to capture their fourth-straight victory in the rivalry game last season. The contest was at home, where SUU had been perfect all year, and the T-Birds held a commanding 22-point lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the contest.
Of course, Weber State rallied to score 23 points, including 14 in the final two minutes, for the stunning 37-36 victory.
That loss became the impetus for the T-Birds' mantra of “Leave No Doubt," which was designed to push the entire Thunderbird program to improve.
So far, so good.
The T-Birds enter Saturday’s game with a 3-2 (1-1) record, a mark that includes last week’s win over the Cal Poly Mustangs. Quarterback Patrick Tyler was instrumental in the victory, completing 23 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown.
Weber State, however, will be an altogether different challenge.
“They’re a good team, they’re a solid team,” SUU coach Demario Warren said of the Wildcats. “They're in the top five of every category we care about on offense, defense and special teams. They have a legitimate top-10 defense.”
That defense, along with the efforts of quarterback Stefan Cantwell, among others, has propelled the Wildcats to a 4-1 (3-0) start, the program's best since 2003. A win over the T-Birds would give Weber State its best start since 1998, when it opened 5-1.
“We have our work cut out for us,” said Weber State coach Jay Hill. “(The T-birds) are big, fast and create havoc defensively. They’re really balanced offensively as well.”
“It’s an in-state rivalry game,” Hill added. “They kicked our butts two years ago. Last year we pulled off the huge comeback. It should be a rivalry and I hope each year it gets more so.”
Warren was in lockstep, saying “It is definitely a rivalry. This is an exciting week for us, it’s another big opportunity.”
WSU/SUU on the air
Southern Utah (3-2)
at No. 16/18 Weber State (4-1)
Saturday, 6 p.m. MDT
Stewart Stadium, Ogden, Utah
TV: Eleven Sports Network
Radio: KLO 1430 AM
Online: Pluto TV/WatchBigSky.com