Nov 23, 2010

History of the Rivalry

The Brigham Young University Cougars and the University of Utah Utes play each other each year in what has become known as the Holy War Rivalry.

Church and state clash in this epic battle between two football powers on the rise. Matters of Church and State collide head on when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint's flagship school, Brigham Young University goes head to head with the State sponsored University of Utah meet on the gridiron.

The Holy War Rivalry is one of the oldest rivalries in college football. The rivalries fierceness is a product of the proximity of the two schools, the solid college football programs both schools maintain, and the longevity of the competition. Not to mention the obvious factor of religion.

Religion. Religion has clear ties to the rivalry, although faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) can be found among fans of both schools; as are non-members fans of both schools. Yet many fans on both sides accuse the others of being homogeneous stereotypes. With Ute fans accusing BYU fans of being holier-than-thou and Cougar fans accusing Ute fans as drunkards.

Longevity. Another aspect of this game which makes feelings burn so hot is the sheer length of time that these two teams have met. The first game between the two was played in the early 1920s. From 1922 to the 1970s the Utes dominated the Cougars, with the first Cougar victory coming in 1942. Yet the Utes would continue to dominate the win-loss ratio. All that would change however with the hiring of LaVell Edwards as head coach in 1972. Over the next 21 seasons the Cougars led by Edwards would only lose 2 games, going 19-2. It wasn't until the Utes brought in Ron McBride that they could again start to gain any traction.

Competitive. Both teams have proven very good over the last several years, making the rivalry all the more important as it is usually among two teams who have proven winners. The Utes have enjoyed success with two trips to BCS games, defeating a hapless Pitt in 2004 and a very good Alabama in 2008. The Cougars have been no strangers to success either along with winning the National Championship in 1984 the Cougars under new head coach Bronco Mendenhall are one of only a handful of teams that have won 10 straight games for 4 years in a row and have experienced bowl wins over Oregon, UCLA, and Oregon St.

Proximity. BYU and Utah are located in the two major population centers in Utah, less than an hour a part from one another. Fans of both teams therefore live in the same communities, work in the same offices, attend the same schools and go to the same churches. Both schools target the top Utah prep athletes and it is very common for teammates in high school to play against one another in college. Even family members often have rival allegiances when it comes to the Holy War Rivalry.

The current record of the rivalry currently stands at 50-31-4 in favor of Utah. Over the last 10 years it stands at 5-5, tied for both teams. With thrilling finishes in most games and the final winning score within one touchdown.

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