SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - The Utah-BYU rivalry dates all the way back to 1896. But you don't have to go back that far to find a the greatest stretch of games in this storied series.
With last year's 54-10 blowout excluded, the past several games have given both BYU and Utah fans memories they will never forget.
From Brett Ratliff's overtime touchdown pass, to Jonny Harline's improbable catch, to Brandon Burton's blocked field goal, this latest stretch of games have never been better.
In 2005, the game went to overtime for the very first time. Utah quarterback Brett Ratliff, making his first collegiate start, capped an incredible night with a touchdown pass to Travis Latendresse in overtime. Ratliff threw four touchdown passes and ran for 112 yards and another score. When John Beck's 4th down pass fell incomplete on BYU's overtime possession, the Utes pulled off a stunning upset 41-34.
The 2006 game gave us the greatest finish of them all. After Ratliff hit Brent Casteel on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 1:16 left in the game, it appeared the underdog Utes were going to pull off another shocker. But John Beck led the Cougars on a drive, and on the last play of the game, Beck scrambled around for what seemed like an eternity before he finally found a wide open Jonny Harline in the end zone with no time left on the clock. BYU celebrated its most dramatic win in the series, 33-31.
The 2007 game was basically all about one play. The Cougars trailed 10-9 with just over a minute left in the game and were pinned back on their own 12 yard line. Facing a desperate 4th and 18 situation, Hall connected with Austin Collie on a 49-yard pass down the sideline. Harvey Unga then ran in the winning touchdown with 38 seconds left as BYU pulled out another thriller, 17-10.
But the next year, Hall committed six turnovers (five interceptions and a fumble), while Brian Johnson threw four touchdown passes as the Utes pulled away in the 2nd half to win easily 48-24. The victory propelled Utah to their 2nd BCS bowl game, where they beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
In 2010, Hall redeemed himself with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Andrew George in overtime, as the Cougars won 26-23. Utah rallied from a 14-point 4th quarter deficit to force overtime, but Hall ended his BYU career with his biggest win.
Then there was the 2011 contest that again went down to the final play. It looked like BYU was going to walk out of Rice-Eccles Stadium with a win until Brandon Burton blocked a potential game-winning field goal as time expired, preserving a 17-16 Utah victory.
Last year's 54-10 Utah romp in Provo proved to be an anomaly in this stretch of games. It turned out to be the biggest Utah blowout in the series in 89 years, and third biggest margin of victory in the history of the rivalry.
Over the last 15 years, the BYU-Utah game has been decided by a touchdown or more only three times. In two of those games, the Utes went on to BCS bowl berths. Let's just hope this year's game gives us even more drama in this incredible rivalry.