SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Now that Utah has officially joined the Big 12 Conference starting in 2024, one of the greatest rivalries in all of college sports has been renewed.
The so-called “Holy War” will once again have conference implications starting next season, as it instantly becomes the best and most historic rivalry in the newly revamped Big 12.
After BYU ended a nine-game losing streak to Utah in 2021, the Utes and Cougars took the next two seasons off in the storied rivalry.
The teams were scheduled to play a non-conference game in 2024, but now that will turn into a Big 12 game. So, both teams will most likely need to find another non-conference game to play next year, unless the Big 12 plays ten conference games.
While Utah and BYU fans have been causing a firestorm on Twitter about the reignited rivalry, some former Utes and Cougars players have joined in as well.
Former Utah and current Washington Commanders defensive back Terrell Burgess tweeted, “Utah will no move on to the Big 12 and just run that conference.”
To which former BYU and current Washington wide receiver Dax Milne replied, “Aight now…clearly this day off has given you too much time on your hands…start thinking foolish thoughts out there.”
There is nothing like being in the same conference to spark deep rivalry feelings again.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe welcomed Utah, as well as Arizona and Arizona State, into the Big 12 in a statement saying, “We are excited to now welcome Arizona, Arizona State and Utah to the Big 12, in addition to Colorado. Having 16 member institutions be a great strength to the conference moving forward. I am grateful to the Big 12 leadership for seeing this through. The conference keeps getting stronger, and we are thankful to add more Big 12 rivals in closer proximity.”
Utah and BYU had been in the same conference dating back to 1918, when they were a part of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Then in 1937, BYU and Utah became founding members of the Skyline Conference, where they remained for 25 years. Then in 1962, both Utah and BYU moved on to the new Western Athletic Conference.
They stayed WAC rivals until 1998, when both schools moved to the Mountain West Conference.
In 2011, Utah left for the Pac-12, while BYU became a football independent. But now they are back together again.
The two schools disagree on when the first game in the series was played. Utah claims the first game was played in 1896 against Brigham Young Academy. BYU’s athletic website shows their schedule dating back to 1922, but no earlier.
Dating back to 1922, Utah holds the overall edge in the football rivalry, 62-35-4.
While Utah dominated the rivalry from 1951 to 1964, going 13-1 against the Cougars, the tables turned in 1972. That is when LaVell Edwards took over the BYU program, and the Cougars won 19 of the next 21 meetings. Utah turned things around in 1993 and 1994, winning two classic 34-31 games.
The series remained relatively even until 2010, when the Utes reeled off nine consecutive victories, including a 35-28 in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2015, the only time the schools have played in a bowl game.
BYU finally ended the streak in 2021 with a 26-17 victory at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Since 2011, the intensity of the rivalry has decreased with occasional meetings usually happening early in the season.
But now that Utah and BYU are back in the same conference starting in 2024, expect the heated rivalry to ramp up once again.