College football has been known to raise loyal passions along the Wasatch Front, but even the most die-hard fans of either the University of Utah or Brigham Young University should take pride in the way both teams handled their bowl opponents this week.

The victories - the Utes beat highly touted Arizona 16-13 and BYU clobbered Oklahoma 31-6 - enhanced the reputations of both Utah schools as well as of the Western Athletic Conference. The wins also gave both teams 10 victories on the season for the first time ever.For Utah, the bowl win was a vindication of its best-ever season and a refutation of critics who felt the team's schedule was too soft.

For BYU, the win erased the stigma of always qualifying for bowls but seldom managing to win one. It also settled a 10-year-old score with an Oklahoma team that felt it, not BYU, should have been the 1984 national champion.

Perhaps the victories will ease some of the pain fans of both teams felt at not winning the Western Athletic Conference championship.

For college football fans in Utah, the bowl wins and the entire season provided unparalleled options for enjoying exciting football. Few states can boast one, let alone two, teams of such caliber. Both BYU and Utah were nationally ranked, and both defeated impressive opponents. And when they played each other, both teams provided plenty of excitement.

The off-season may not be easy for either school. Utah has to cope with the loss of several seniors. BYU may have to find a replacement for its quarterback. But seasons like these can only help recruiting efforts and, despite the disappointments endured by fans of both schools, they provide many pleasant memories.

Hearty congratulations to both teams.