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Are Utah and Utah State Rivals?

A complicated answer to a simple question.

Since 2000 Utah and Utah State have played 13 times, overall they have meet 112, and it's the 14th oldest rivalry in college football. That is if you consider it a rivalry, the series has been mostly dominated by the Utes, they have won 72% of the games played between the two schools, and over the last 15 meetings they have won 14 times.

The one-sided domination of this series obviously raises the question "Is this series even a rivalry?". While the question is simple, the answer is not.

In the NCAA's eyes, this series is a rivalry, called the "Battle of Brothers". Utah and Utah State even play for a trophy called the "Beehive Boot", but rivalries aren't decided by the NCAA or a trophy.

A fact that's apparent when you look at Wisconsin and Nebraska's "rivalry" game where they fight for the "Freedom Trophy". In my opinion, a game is considered a rivalry if the two teams hate each other and there's no one-sided domination.

Think classic rivalries like Miami vs Florida State, in the prime of their rivalry they drew the largest TV audience in ESPN history (for a college football game). Obviously, not every rivalry is going to bring in ridiculous numbers, and not every rivalry is going to be as heated and close as Miami vs Florida State, but I think rivalry games do have to be both heated and close to some extent.

The Beehive Boot

Upon hearing this, you might think "Well then I guess Utah vs Utah State isn't a rivalry." but hold on just a second. While the series has been mostly dominated by the Utes, over the past few years Utah State has notably improved. In 2006 the Aggies had just one win, but in 2014 the Aggies had 10 wins. Just like their record, the Aggies have also improved greatly when playing against the Utes.

From 2002 to 2009 the Aggies didn't win a game against the Utes, and lost by an average of 30 points, but from 2012 to 2015 the Aggies have only lost by an average of 7 points and have won a game against the Utes. The series is closer than ever, but there are no scheduled meetings between the two schools in the near future even though Matt Wells, coach of the Aggies, has spoken out saying he wishes the game would come back.

The series is fun for players and fans, and as of late it's been competitive, and while this makes for a great game and the resurgence of a long forgotten rivalry game, it's not good for Utah's potential playoff contention.

A loss, or even a close game against a Group of Five school, for the most part, puts Utah out of playoff contention. Instead of playing Utah State in the upcoming season Utah will be playing another Mountain West team, San Jose State.

While the Utah vs Utah State game might be fun, the fact of the matter is that Utah doesn't want to lose against a Group of Five school.

Maybe the schools will meet up again one day in a bowl game, but I don't see the series being renewed for at least 5 years. The Utah vs Utah State game was, in my opinion, a rivalry game. The schools didn't like each other, and the games were getting closer each year. Sadly, the resurgence of this rivalry lead to its downfall.