The “Holy War”.
Those words said anywhere in the country will raise different emotions. Some people think of the “Crusades” back in the dark ages, others will think of the fighting for Jerusalem. In Utah, those words symbolize the most heated, hate filled rivalry in the state.
There has been a lot of talk recently in the sporting news world that the rivalry is in danger of being discontinued once the Utes head to the PAC-12 in 2011. I don’t believe that the annual game between the two will be discontinued for a lot of reasons. First and foremost being the teams’ history in the rivalry.
Utah and BYU have played each other 91 times since 1896. Utah got out to a fast start building a 41-8-4 lead over BYU. The Cougars then hired LaVell Edwards and were able to pull the total back to 43-27-4 by 1992. Since then, the Utes have won 10 of the last 17 games played between the two and command the rivalry standings by 20 games 53-33-4.
To pull out of the rivalry now (while it’s at its most heated and competitive it’s ever been) would be insane.
When you talk to a true BYU fan or Utah fan and ask them what makes the rivalry so intense between the schools, you probably wont get one consistent answer. There are way too many factors in the feud to give a clear winner.
Speaking from personal experience, the rivalry to me is important because it’s always been there. Every year, you watch not only your team but you watch and play close attention to your rival. It’s that way all over the country. Notre Dame triumphs with USC’s shortcomings. Florida and Florida State are the same. They don’t play in the same conferences but that doesn’t keep them from scheduling each other every single year.
The same is true of Utah/BYU. Even if the AD’s decided to discontinue the game for a season, the uproar from both fan bases across the state and country would be so overwhelming they would have to remedy the situation.
I hate BYU. Not because of conference ties, not because of when we play them. I hate them because I’ve always hated them. And nothing, not changing conferences, not changing when the game is played, will ever change that. If anything, Utah moving to the more illustrious BCS conference adds fuel to the fire. I can’t tell you how many BYU friends of mine have tried to argue the strength of the MWC to try to make me feel like BYU is better off for staying in the Mountain West. To which I just laugh and laugh and pat their backs and say “we’ll see”.