No. 21 Utah aims to extend success in BYU rivalry

NCAA Football

The latest installment of the Holy War carries historical stakes.

No. 21 Utah will visit BYU in Provo on Saturday night looking for its 10th straight victory in the heated rivalry. Neither school has won more than nine straight since the series began in 1896 – a series the Utes lead 62-34-4.

Many recent contests between BYU and Utah have been close games with exciting finishes. The game has been decided by eight points or less in eight of the past 10 meetings.

“It’s up there with the best rivalries in all of college football,” Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd said.

The Utes seem to be in a good position to extend their winning streak after dismantling Weber State 40-17 in their season opener. Utah showed good balance on offense.

Charlie Brewer threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-27 passing in his debut with the Utes. Tavion Thomas also starred in his Utah debut, rushing for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.

Utah scored on its first three drives and averaged 7.5 yards per play. The Utes struck almost a 50/50 balance between the run and pass after making it goal to incorporate more passing into the offense heading into the season.

Improving in the passing game remains a point of emphasis this week.

“We know we need to throw the football better,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We need to throw it more productively and more efficiently than we did last year. If you want to be an elite team, you have to be able to throw the ball with a lot of those big-chunk yardage plays.”

BYU will face Utah as part of seeing three Pac-12 teams in a three-week span. The Cougars took care of Arizona in their season opener, 24-16 in Las Vegas.

Jaren Hall fared well in his season debut, throwing for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-28 passing. Hall added 36 yards on five carries. His favorite target, Neil Pau’u, finished with a career-high 126 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches. Tyler Allgeier added 94 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

Hall played mistake-free football for the most part against Arizona, which kept the Wildcats from ever seriously threatening to rally against BYU.

“The thing I liked the most about how he played was he protected the football,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “He made some really good throws and made some great decisions.”

This will be the last game between the two rivals before the series takes a two-year hiatus in 2022 and 2023. Both teams are fired up to hold in-state bragging rights. Even if it no longer carries the same implications from when they were conference rivals, players and coaches from both BYU and Utah still feel a special energy attached to the game.

“It’s definitely one of the most anticipated games each season,” Cougars defensive end Tyler Batty said. “It’s intense, it’s exciting, it’s pretty much everything you could want in a football game.”

–Field Level Media

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