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BLUFFDALE, Salt Lake County — The big rivalry game between BYU and University of Utah is getting closer and the anticipation is turning neighbor against neighbor.
Two neighbors in Bluffdale said they are fiercely loyal to their alma maters. Each year they find a new and creative prank to prove it and this year they said they've taken their efforts to a new level.
The rivalry in this neighborhood began three years ago when a young boy wanted to go to a movie with his neighbors.
"My son came back almost in tears because (our neighbor) said he couldn't go to the movie with his BYU shirt on. So I stuck a BYU hat on him and said ‘Go back, you're going to the movie,' " said BYU fan Greg Staley.
The pranks heated up from there, they said. Over the years Staley and University of Utah fan Ryan Simpson have exchanged T-shirts of opposing teams and decorated mailboxes.
"From there it just escalated to lawn paint to garden gnomes to flags to all kinds of things," Staley said.
Simpson said it has been a lot of fun.
A set of lawn gnomes were heavily cemented in the yard. Once painted red, they are now blue. Both families agreed all pranks are friendly and funny and they are often impressed by the other's creativity.
One year Staley said he posted free tickets for a rivalry football game online — all people who wanted free tickets had to do was call Simpson's cell phone number.
"I received hundreds of phone calls," Simpson said.
Staley said he got a message from Simpson about an hour later saying his phone wouldn't stop ringing. Some ideas for pranks have come from a neighborhood homeowners' association Facebook page, Staley said.
"The entire neighborhood actually has gotten into it (and) provided ideas and things," Staley said. "A lot of it has happened in the middle of the night. The flag pole went up about 11 p.m. at night."
This year a BYU "rise and shout" flag waves proudly, 25 feet above the ground in Simpson's yard. There is no rope to lower it.
Shortly after it appeared, Simpson repaid the favor with a Utah logo boldly painted on Staley's lawn. A former U of U football field painter was called in to get the job done.
"I don't know how to escalate next without doing something permanent to a house," Simpson said.
Both Staley and Simpson said they are able to laugh at each other and themselves. They're even placing a bet on the winner of Saturday's game — the losing team has to fly the other team's flag for a year.