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Utah-BYU rivalry still heated, even in September

Utah-BYU rivalry still heated, even in September

By Lynn Debruin, Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 14, 2011 at 11:18 a.m.

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

PROVO, Utah (AP) - Last year's matchup started with pre-game taunting and was decided by a last-second blocked field goal.

Not much figures to change this year in the BYU-Utah rivalry, even if Saturday night's showdown will mark the first time in 113 years the teams will play as non-conference opponents.

BYU (1-1) vs. Utah (1-1)
Series Snapshot
For the first time in 113 years, the two schools are competing as non-conference opponents. The second-longest series in Utah history began in 1896 when BYU was known as the BY Academy. Utah leads the all-time series 54-34-4 (BYU does not acknowledge the BY Academy years, which would equally remove three wins and losses). The score is tied 17-17-1 in Provo, where Utah has lost two straight since winning there in 2005.Week 3 Game Notes
  • BYU (1-1) vs. Utah (1-1)
  • Date: Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011
  • Time: 7:15 p.m. MT
  • Site: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, Utah (64,045/Grass)
  • TV: ESPN2
  • Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM and
  • Series Record: Utah leads 54-34-4
  • Last Meeting: 2010 (Utah 17, BYU 16)
  • Kickoff Weather: Chance of storms, temps in the low 70s
Team Stat Comparison for 2011-2012 Season
Utah BYU Adv.
Points For (Per Game)20.50 15.00
Rushing Yards (Per Game)136.00 67.00
Passing Yards (Per Game)169.50 208.50
Total Yards (Per Game)305.50275.50
3rd Down Conversions (Season)32%41%
4th Down Conversions (Season)60%100%
Time of Possession (Per Game)28:3931:47
Red Zone Scores (Season)100%83%
Points Against (Per Game)16.5015.00
Rushing Defense (Per Game)113.50115.00
Passing Defense (Per Game)223.50133.50
Total Defense (Per Game)337.00248.50
3rd Down Defense % (Season)37%29%

BYU has gone the independent route and Utah is a member of the Pac-12. At least through 2012, they'll settle bragging rights on the field, even if no conference title is on the line.

"It's still as big as ever," Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn said of the rivalry, which has served as the regular-season finale in 28 of the last 32 years.

That's not to say it doesn't feel strange talking about the game in mid-September, before the leaves have changed.

"We do feel like it's a little weird this game coming so early, but whenever it is, we'll be excited to play," said BYU running back Bryan Kariya, whose brother-in-law is Utah linebacker Chaz Walker.

At least Kariya knows that name.

The ever-prepared BYU coach, Bronco Mendenhall, had to ask for a little leeway when questioned about Utah's run game Monday.

"I need (jersey) numbers," Mendenhall said, an indication he hasn't had the usual time to familiarize himself with the Utes.

When he does, he'll see a team that in many ways resembles his own.

Both teams are 1-1 and coming off tough road losses, with new coordinators trying to get their respective offenses untracked.

The Utes had a chance to tie Saturday's inaugural Pac-12 game against USC only to see a last-second field goal attempt blocked and returned for a touchdown.

BYU blew a 13-3 halftime lead and fell 17-16 to Texas.

Having played two close games figures to work in BYU's favor, as the Cougars know they can come back as they did in rallying from a 13-0 deficit to beat Ole Miss, 14-13, in the opener.

But having a full slate of Pac-12 games after this week and a subsequent bye is motivation for the Utes.

"I think this whole schedule helps you get over a win or loss quickly," Wynn said. "Every week we play someone who's good and you gotta come out ready."

Whichever offense gets it together quicker may go a long way toward settling the rivalry, which has been decided by a touchdown or less in five of the last six games.

This season, both offenses have struggled. Wynn managed only 101 yards passing in the opener but showed some improvement against USC, and has not thrown an interception.

BYU quarterback Jake Heaps has two touchdowns but also three interceptions.

Neither team had much of a run game last week.

Unlike last season when Mendenhall took control of BYU's defense after a rough start, he said Brandon Doman has the offensive reins.

"I don't know enough offensive football, I'm so involved in running the defense and I hired a staff I trust," Mendenhall said.

He credited opposing defenses as much for his team's offensive woes.

While players aren't second-guessing BYU's conservative game plan, that doesn't mean it hasn't been frustrating.

"Going three-and-out and kicking a bunch of field goals, that's frustrating," said Kariya, who has only 35 yards rushing in two games. "We definitely want to score touchdowns. But we need to get our groove as an offense. We haven't hit that yet. I expect we will hit that in the next game or two. It took us a while last year to get going, but I think we're on the right track."

Walker doesn't want to see that happen Saturday night in Provo, against a Utes defense that has played fairly solid.

And certainly not against someone in the family.

"We definitely don't want to be the team they have a great game against," Walker said.

More uncertain is whether the rivalry will continue, what with all the conference realignment talk.

"I'm not sure if it will," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "A rivalry that's been around this long and so intense and so competitive, you'd like to see it continue but will it is anybody's guess."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Lynn Debruin


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