SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – In the 101-game history of the Utah-BYU rivalry, neither team has ever won ten in a row in the series.
Not the dominant Utes teams of the 1920’s and 1950’s, nor the powerful Cougars teams of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
But the Utes have a chance set a rivalry record with its tenth consecutive victory in the series this Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.
“I think that you’re fooling yourself if you just say that it’s just another game,” said Utes wide receiver Britain Covey. “It’s not. It doesn’t mean that it’s the Super Bowl, but it’s a big game.”
“More than anything, it’s about keeping the streak alive,” said Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd. “Understanding that the intensity needs to be upped because we don’t lose to those guys. It’s that plain and simple.”
But Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham hopes his team doesn’t get caught up in extending the streak. He just wants his team to play better than it did in the Utes 40-17 season-opening victory over Weber State last week.
“Nothing lasts forever,” said Whittingham, who hasn’t lost to his alma mater since 2009. “We’re just approaching it like we do every year. The preparation will be the key. It’s not the emotion part of it, or how many wins in a row or any of that stuff. It’s the preparation.”
Whittingham acknowledges that for a variety of reasons, the rivalry has definitely changed the last several years when Utah joined the Pac-12 and BYU went independent.
“We’re not in the same conference anymore,” Whittingham said. “That’s been 11 years now. We don’t play it every year. We’re taking two years off after this year and we’ve taken time off in the past. The timing of the game, early in the season. Typically a rivalry game is the last game of the season. So there’s a lot of reasons why it has a different feel than it used to.”
“I think it’s more the fans that get into it,” Covey added. “For the players, there’s nothing but respect. That’s when it gets easier to appreciate the rivalry in a different way when you start to get to know players on the other team.”
Like Samson Nacua, Covey’s high school teammate at Timpview, who transferred from Utah to BYU this past off-season.
“Samson has been one of my best friends for years,” Covey said. “Don’t be surprised if we stage a fake fight with full on karate moves planned out.”
For the Utes who haven’t experienced the rivalry before, like quarterback Charlie Brewer, who transferred from Baylor last year, he’s learning all about it this week.
“I’ve learned that it’s a really big game,” Brewer said. “People have said how great of an atmosphere and how much it means to the people up here. So, I’m excited to get to play in it.”
Utah and BYU will kick off at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, September 11th at LaVell Edwards Stadium.