The Holy War in the Bronco, Whit Era

George Frey

BYU has played Utah since 1896, or 1922, depending on if you believe Utah or BYU. The fact that both schools can't even agree when it started proves it's a true rivalry. Separated by an hour drive, 50 miles away, BYU and Utah have one of the nastiest, exciting rivalries in modern college football.

A Bit About Bronco and Kyle

  • Bronco Mendenhall and Kyle Whittingham both took over their respective programs as Head Coach in 2005 after being Defensive Coordinators on their respective teams before their promotions.
  • They both understand the rivalry, as Kyle Whittingham played for BYU in the 80's, then switched allegiances to feed his family in a coaching position at Utah.
  • Bronco and Whittingham have played each other exactly 8 times, Utah winning 5 of those 8. BYU is 2-2 playing the game in Provo, 1-3 playing in Salt Lake City.

On September 21st, BYU will bring Utah home, which will mark the last game played before resuming the rivalry in 2016. Utah refused to schedule BYU in 2014 and 2015 saying it threw off the balance of their schedule. Instead, they chose Fresno St. and Michigan. Next season will be the first season BYU hasn't played Utah since 1945, 68 years ago. They didn't play that game due to World War II.

Looking Back on the Matchups

2005

Utah defeated BYU in OT 41-34 in Provo. Brett Ratliff, the backup QB came in and torched BYU, claiming responsibility for all 5 of Utah's TD's, giving Whittingham his first win against BYU as Head Coach of the U.

Record - Bronco 0, Whit 1.

2006

Many know this one as "The Answered Prayer," and puns are still shared stating, "Harline is still open." Utah scored the go-ahead TD with 1:21 remaining on the clock left in the 4th quarter, putting BYU down 31-27. BYU drove the length of the field behind the very impressive Sr. John Beck. With 3 ticks left on the clock, BYU snapped the ball, John Beck scrambled around, and found Harline wide open in the corner of the Utes end zone who caught the game-winner on his knees.

Record - Bronco 1, Whit 1.

2007

This game is known as "4th and 18," where Max Hall hit Austin Collie for a long bomb late in the 4th quarter on 4th down and 18 yards to go. On that drive BYU ended up scoring on a Harvey Unga run, giving BYU the 17-10 win in Provo. That was the game that Austin Collie was reported saying, "When you do what's right on and off the field, magic happens." Utah fans and the media didn't like that so much, but now it's forever etched into our memories.

Record - Bronco 2, Whit 1.

2008

This season is known as Utah's Sugar Bowl year. BYU was the last regular season game on Utah's schedule, so BYU had the chance to play spoiler. It was a tight game going into the 4th quarter, until Max Hall threw a couple interceptions.

Max Hall threw 5 interceptions total in the game, and Utah went on to crush the Cougars, 48-24, and then onto the Sugar Bowl to beat Alabama, who at the time had just come off as losers of the SEC championship game that would have placed them solidly in the BCS National Championship game.

Record - Bronco 2, Whit 2.

2009

This game was known widely as the Max Hall hates Utah game. The game itself went to OT, where Max Hall hit Andrew George in the middle of the field as two Utah defenders ran into each other, and he waltzed into the end zone for the win. 26-23. Max Hall stated in an interview that he hates Utah, the fans, the organization, that they're classless. Of course, t-shirts were made, and Utah and BYU fans had a hay day with this banter.

Record - Bronco 3, Whit 2.

2010

This game was highly controversial for BYU fans, and known as "The Blocked Kick" for Ute fans. BYU went into the 4th quarter up 13-0, then Utah scored a field goal, got a fumble, in the which the BYU's corner's knee was on the ground and he had possession before the ball was ripped out, but the call on the field stood as Utah's ball even after replay review. Utah scored on the drive, BYU made a field goal, then Utah scored a TD to go up 17-16. BYU drove the field under the arm of former QB Jake Heaps, then as BYU was kicking the potentially game-winning field goal, Brandon Burton of Utah blocked it, giving Utah the win.

Record - Bronco 3, Whit 3.

2011

54-10 Utah. Not much can be said about this game other than BYU had 7 turnovers. It was the perfect storm, and one of those worst case scenario games for BYU that came to fruition. However, it isn't the biggest blowout in the history of the rivalry, the biggest margin of victory was 56-6 BYU in 1980 in what was then called Rice Stadium, with Jim McMahon at QB. When Ute fans were heckling him, he just pointed to the scoreboard.

Record - Bronco 3, Whit 4.

2012

This game is known as almost  being lost by the Ute fans. BYU threw the ball and it hit the ground seemingly as time expired. The fans rushed the field. The refs determined there was 1 second remaining, the fans were pushed back, and BYU lined up to kick a 51 yard field goal. The kick was blocked, but it was picked up by a BYU player.

The fans rushed the field again thinking it was over. A 15 yard penalty was called because of the fans, so BYU had one more chance at a kick, from 36 yards out to tie the game at 24 and send it to OT. The kick hit the uprights and bounced off as Utah won. The fans rushed the field the 3rd time and the 3rd time was the charm.

Record - Bronco 3, Whit 5.

2013

TBD. The game is in Provo, where BYU is 2-2 since the Bronco Era. The margin of victory by either team in those 4 games, excluding the outlier 54-10, has been by 7, 7, and 3 points respectively. The average margin of victory being 5.6 points.

6 of the last 8 rivalry games have been by a margin of victory of 3.8 points.

Utah has won the last 3 rivalry games, the first in 2010 by 1 point, 2011 by 44 points, and last season by 3 points. Utah is going for 4 straight wins over their rival, while BYU is striving to get back bragging rights for the break in the Holy War in the next couple seasons.

Four wins in a row, and a two year hiatus? That's six years straight that Ute fans can walk around with their heads held high, looking down on BYU fans. That's something no BYU fan wants to deal with at work, church, school, family parties, or even Twitter.

The division is ever present in the state of Utah, people either bleed blue or red. The rivalry is just so good and unblemished that we call it holy. (yeah right)

Bring on the Holy War.

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