You know a rivalry is heated when the two rivals cannot even agree on how many times they have played one another. According to Utah, Thursday’s showdown with BYU will be the 100th edition of the Holy War game.
The Cougars, on the other hand, do not count the six games played between the two schools prior to achieving university status in 1903. Thus, the home side will consider the duel between longtime intrastate rivals as the 94th edition.
Utah brings an experienced roster to Provo hoping to score the first victory en route to a Pac-12 championship and a possible College Football Playoff berth. BYU will be hoping to make waves and thwart the ambitions of their nemesis as they look for the school’s first major bowl appearance since the 1996 Cotton Bowl.
Kyle Whittingham’s crew came out on top last year 35-27 at home. Over the past six showdowns, a single score has decided the winner. With BYU at home, they will hope to get the upper hand as an underdog. Can Kalani Sitake’s side emerge on top in what is sure to be a thriller between these two sides?y
After going 20-of-29 for 204 yards and two touchdowns last year, Zach Wilson has to be more dynamic with the football if the Cougars are going to keep pace with Utah. BYU needs their young defense to step up in a big way right away to give Wilson and the offense as many opportunities as possible.
Utah, meanwhile, needs to grind out the clock and keep BYU’s offense off the field as much as possible. A strong ground game will have plenty of chances to churn out tough yards to keep the chains moving and the clock running. Whittingham’s defense needs to make life difficult for Wilson and force a few turnovers.
This season, Utah has too much at stake to fall apart in this contest even on the road. While the crowd will be incredibly partisan in Provo, Tyler Huntley has the experience to manage the offense with aplomb. Returning from the injury that knocked him out of the final five games of 2018, Huntley is going to have a field day against the Cougars.
Look for BYU to carve out an early lead as Utah takes their time to warm up into the opener. Once the Utes are firing on all cylinders, though, fortunes will be reversed and the Utes will cover the spread in the end.