I know we should be pumping out more Holy War articles with this game being one of the biggest and most hated rivalry games in the country, go ahead and ask Mississippi State head coach, former Florida offensive coordinator, and former Utah quarterbacks coach Dan Mullen -- he agrees. Myself I grew up in Houston and the Texas Longhorns and Texas A&M Aggies was the huge rival game and was very heated between the two schools. Personally I liked both but hedged toward the Longhorns just to tick off my brother who went to Texas A&M.
Then I came to Utah and realized that the Texas/Texas A&M rival had nothing on the Holy War. In my opinion a reason that the BYU and Utah rivalry is so big --after the religious aspect-- is that Utah only have the Utah Jazz and then Utah and BYU. While in Houston there are fans of the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Houston Astros, and the Houston Rockets; so there are more rooting interests. With only two major football universities (sorry Utah State) and one pro team the state is divided on the only other major sports action. Having lived across the country I feel that I have a good pulse on how big this rivalry is nationally.
For those who are unfaimilar with the schools BYU is an extension of the LDS church where they have an Honor Code that all football players -- and students -- must follow such as no drinking alcohol, having girls over at certain hours, certain length on hair and facial hair, plus other guidelines that are not the norm at Utah and nearly every other college campus. The religion aspect that goes along with BYU is that they feel they are superior to Utes because as Austin Collie most eloquently put it:
"When you're living right and doing the right things on and off the field, and when you’re doing those things, things come together. It’s not a coincidence that you’re successful when you’re doing things right, but [it is] from being blessed by the Lord’s hands. That’s the type of faith we have and play with, and it’s nothing different than any other team or athlete who puts their faith in God."
That might be the best quote from the rivalry and the good folks at SB Nation's BYU site Vanquish the Foe are counting down the most memoribal quotes this week leading up to the game. Utah fans hate that quote and feel that is the arrogance of BYU. Thanks to Collie, that quote is often used when BYU loses a game because fans twist it by saying that someone from the BYU squad is not living by the BYU honor code standards.
For full disclosure, I did graduate from Utah and that is my team I cheer for, but do not have the hatred toward BYU as some Utah fans posses (check the comments and a response post). I do think that some BYU fans feel they are better then Ute fans in general because BYU had an amazing run under LaVell Edwards and their national title in 1984 -- which oh by the was 25 years ago.
The LaVell years were amazing but it has been just about a decade he was the coach and that national title was so long ago, and sounds lame when Cougar fans mention that national title. Now, I am not down grading their title that year but I do not hear TCU fans keep proclaiming their 1938 AP national title when comparing themselves to their rival SMU who have been crowned national champions but none by the AP poll.
To me that sounds crazy to hang onto and mention a 25 year old national title and Cougar fans need to finally relinquish their feeling that they are the dominant program and acknowledge Utah is the top team in the state. The past decade the Utes have had two undefeated seasons while BYU has had only one in the past eighty years.
Here is visual proof of the goofiness of BYU fans, and this is taken after the BYU win over Oklahoma:
Then there is the wackiness of when a BYU fan jumped a male Utah cheerleader who then got various punched thrown their way:
Both sides go crazy, and even myself who wants BYU to do well in big games and generally tolerate BYU fans, but this week is different. While I nitpick what people say from BYU and usually feel what they say toward the Utes is a slight. This week is the greatest week of smack talk from all sides and this rivalry can stand on par with any college football rivalry in the country.
Since I am not previewing this game my prediction is that Utah's defense will be the difference and expect this game to go down to the wire as have so many the past six years with a Utah win.