I like to think that a rivalry inspires greater play on both sides of the ball. For Utah, there have been several different rivalries over the years. Most often, three situations surround a true rivalry.
#1 – Proximity
This situation seems to breed the deepest of rivalries. Of course, for Utah, this rival is BYU. Personally, I see no reason this will change. Colorado will not replace BYU as the “rival next door” unless they become much more competitive in both the division and head to head. I don’t see this happening soon.
#2 – Consistently Close Competition
The most infamous of Utah rivalries in this category is undoubtedly the Air Force Falcons. Over the last 9 meetings between the 2, the average margin of victory was about 6.1 points.
Who knows, maybe Colorado will step into the Air Force void as the game each year that Utah fans dread as an inevitable battle and struggle, but I would take Air Force over Colorado head to head 4 out of 5 games the way each team is currently playing.
#3 – Big Time Games
The last decade or so, Utah has battled BYU for not only bragging rights in the Holy War result, but also for rank in the conference standings. Because the Holy War was played as the last game of the regular season, there was inherently added importance. In ’04 and ’08, specifically, Utah/BYU was highly important for Utah to finish undefeated, and even for BYU in a spoiler role. In ’09, BYU beating Utah broke a conference record tie of 6-1.
With better recruiting and gained familiarity in the Pac-12 South, I find it hard to believe that the Utah/Colorado game will hold a lot more weight than Utah clinching the South division with a victory (which may be the case in this inaugural year).
I have hopes that within the next 5 years, Utah builds a rivalry or rivalries with division or conference foes the caliber of USC’s and Arizona State’s.
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In closing, I do see three situations where a rivalry could ignite between the Buffs and Utes this weekend, and that is if CU beats Utah on a last second play, if CU blows Utah out, or if a brawl breaks out after a controversial play.
At least the genius’ marketing this forced rivalry thought up an amazingly cool name for the game.
“Rumble in the Rockies”…
- Pac-12 Championship UCLA, ASU and Utah: Why You Should Be a Utah Fan (bleacherreport.com)