SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - The Utah-BYU rivalry will be heated no matter when it's played. But because it's being played earlier than ever before this season, perhaps the intensity and hatred will be calmed down a bit. Or, maybe not.
"It's still as big as ever," said Utes quarterback Jordan Wynn. "You want to do anything and whatever it takes to get a win in this game."
"Obviously it doesn't have conference implications for either of us," added Utes offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom. "But it has every other kind of implication you can think of."
"I think it's going to be the same old rivalry," said BYU linebacker Jameson Frazier. "It's going to be a heated, tough battle that's going to be fought to the bitter end."
But has the rivalry gotten too bitter? From Max Hall saying he hated everything about Utah, to Kyle Whittingham's wife getting attacked, to pre and post game altercations, both coaches think that fans and players alike need to take a step back from their emotions.
"It has gotten a little bit overboard in situations to say the least," said Whittingham. "But hopefully, cooler heads will prevail this year."
"I would just like it to be a first class rivalry," added BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "The games certainly indicate that. They always seem to be competitive."
If history is any indication, this year's game should be very competitive. Five of the last six games BYU and Utah have played have gone down to the final play, including the last two. In 2009, Andrew George scored the winning touchdown in overtime for BYU, while Brandon Burton blocked a field goal last year to give Utah the dramatic victory.
"That part of it is very exciting," said Mendenhall. "All the rest of it, in terms of how my neighbors and anyone else reacts to it, I could do without."
While there may be no controlling the fans, the players will try to keep their emotions in check during the game.
"It's pretty hostile on the field," said Wynn. "A lot of guys played each other throughout high school, so there's a lot of emotion."
"The hatred is always there when you're playing the game," said Utah linebacker Chaz Walker. "But after the game, we go back to being civil."
"We don't want to stir up anything more than is already there," said BYU running back Bryan Kariya. "There's a lot of hype about this game already, and I don't think we need to contribute to it."