SALT LAKE CITY — BYU is seven weeks away from finally ending a frustrating period that began over a decade ago, a span old-timers would consider inconceivable.
As all associated with both programs are fully aware, BYU has not beat Utah in football since the overtime game in 2009. Close games or blowouts, the results haven't changed going back to a game best known for quarterback Max Hall's postgame "I hate Utah" rant.
Red over blue in virtually every way, a fact that even BYU diehards can't argue. The discrepancy is exacerbated by Utah's inclusion into the Pac-12 that began in 2011, the same year BYU left the Mountain West to become an independent.
For a program that basically dominated its rival for two decades beginning with the appointment of LaVell Edwards as coach in the early 1970s, the reversal of fortunes has reached epic proportions. Fans and alumni, especially former players, demand a cease and desist order.
"If you live in Salt Lake like I do and you're surrounded by red like I am and you have to hear the crap everywhere you go for 10 years, I'm so sick of it," former linebacker Bryan Kehl said on BYU Sports Nation. "I want to beat that team with every fiber of my being."
So much for an understatement. Former cornerback Brian Logan took it several steps further, likely exaggerating in saying he'd take a 1-11 record if the lone win was over Utah.
My how times have changed.
To be clear, even with a schedule that includes seven Power Five opponents, BYU will win more than one game this season. But to have any level of satisfaction, the Cougars have to beat Utah.
For all the kicks that bounced off the uprights and a missed 2-point conversion that would have ended the streak, BYU's best chance to win probably was last season. The Cougars, who featured eventual No. 2 draft pick in quarterback Zach Wilson and several others who will be in NFL camps this month, probably would have been favored over the Utes, who were in rebuilding mode after losing virtually the entire defense to the NFL and the program's all-time leading rusher.
Unfortunately for all of us, we'll never know. The Pac-12 caved in to the social pressures due to the coronavirus and played a limited schedule of conference-only games while BYU and other conferences played almost a full slate of games.
What's it going to be on Sept. 11 in Provo?
This is the time of year that websites and publications release their respective preseason predictions. Taking them for what their worth, which depends on the opinion and loyalties, The College Football News preview doesn't offer BYU much hope.
The website ranks BYU at No. 63 out of 130 FBS programs, predicting a 7-5 record. The Utes come in at No. 20 and going 10-2.
Interestingly, Pro Football Focus ranks BYU's Jaren Hall at No. 49 at quarterback. Hall, who sat out last season while recovering from injuries, is locked in a three-way battle with Baylor Romney and Jacob Conover.
The same organization lists Charlie Brewer, Utah's starting quarterback going into training camp, at No. 71. The Baylor transfer has to stave off Cam Rising, who is expected to be ready to compete after suffering a shoulder injury in the first game last season.
The Utes also have question marks at running back and wide receiver, a position that lost transfers Bryan Thompson (Arizona State) and Samson Nacua (BYU). While the defense is still filled with underclassmen, those players gained valuable experience during the five games Utah played last season.
The only certainty in the rivalry is the Cougars will have to wait until 2024 to end the streak if it continues this season. After adding Florida to the schedule in 2022-23, Utah doesn't want to bother with BYU in those two seasons.