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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Utah fullback Ali'i Niumatalolo celebrates as Utah defeats BYU at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. Utah won 35-27.

SALT LAKE CITY — Immediately following Saturday’s thrilling 35-27 comeback victory over rival BYU, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham summed up the rivalry in an approps way.

“Everyone got their money's worth out of that one,” he said. “That was another rivalry game for the books. What would you expect different in this game?”

After Utah’s comeback win, you can list Utah athletic director Mark Harlan aboard for future matchups.

The AD had the opportunity to experience his first rivalry game over the weekend and came away impressed.

“I thought it was awesome,” Harlan said. “There was a lot of excitement all day.”

Harlan experienced nearly all aspects of the rivalry, from tailgating with fans to interacting with players and coaches on both sides.

“I had a chance to talk to Kalani (Sitake) before the game," he said. "And I walked around the tailgates and saw BYU fans, Utah fans and everyone kind of behaved, which is something Tom Holmoe and I really talked about, trying to remind everybody to have some fun.”

The day left an indelible impression.

“I thought it was terrific,” Harlan said. “I loved the way it ended. I thought that part was great. It was a terrific football game. I thought Kalani did a great job getting his guys ready. I thought it was just a great day all around.”

Harlan loved the atmosphere and excitement surrounding the game and it is for that reason that he fails to see why the rivalry game shouldn’t continue in the coming years.

“It is pretty much out there for many, many years to come and with that kind of energy ... I don’t know why you wouldn’t continue to play that game,” he said.

MARATHON: Speaking of BYU-Utah, the game was the longest of the year, at least it felt that way to Utah senior linebacker Cody Barton.

“That game felt longer than our other games,” Barton said. “We were down 20 and it felt like it took the entire second half to come back.”

Come back Utah did.

“I was just like, dang, finally we won,” said Barton. “At the end, it was just ... finally.”

Making the win all the more special for Barton was his friendship with fellow senior linebacker Chase Hansen.

The pair have been locked in friendly competition all year long.

“We have a competition about who will get more tackles, who’ll get the ball first, who calls out more plays and who is smarter,” Barton said. “All that competition heightens our play. We feed off each other.”

The two walked off the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium arm in arm following their final win over the Cougars.

“Sharing that moment with him was huge,” Barton said. “I’ll remember it. I was just like, dang, finally we won.”

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HANGOVER: Whittingham was asked whether there could be a hangover from the BYU game when Utah takes the field at Levi’s Stadium Friday night against Washington, but as far as he is concerned that won’t be the case.

“It is an emotional game (BYU-Utah) and it drains you, but we kept our momentum from the previous two wins,” he said. “Our guys, if they weren’t so resilient I’d be worried about it, but our guys have bounced back and answered the bell every single time this year.”

• • •

2018 Pac-12 Championship Game

No. 17 Utah (9-3) vs. No. 11 Washington (9-3)

Levi’s Stadium — Santa Clara, Calif.

Friday, 6 p.m. (MT)


Radio: ESPN 700AM