Utah 33, BYU 32Nov. 26, Salt Lake City
Rivalry lore: It was a nationally televised game, when TV was still in its infancy, played on Thanksgiving Day that brought national recognition to both schools. Venerated broadcasters Lindsay Nelson and Mel Allen called the action.
Remembering . . . BYU running back Dick Felt.
In what seemed like a turkey of a game for Thanksgiving (it was one of the most lopsided rivalries in college football history as the Utes had only lost once to BYU in the 30-year series), BYU nearly upset Utah, falling short by only one.
And the Cougars had a chance to tie it, actually. Late in the game, Felt lined up in a full-house backfield and ran 30 yards to set up Phil Oyler's 32-yard touchdown catch. But the extra point attempt to tie was knocked down by Utah.
Though BYU lost, it was a monumental moral victory.
That was the climate of the rivalry in those days. "Before the game, the local papers were saying we would disgrace the school and the conference on national TV," he says, recalling rumors circulating around campus that President Ernest L. Wilkinson was going to drop the sport.
He didn't. And Felt would enjoy his fair share of success against Utah in future years. After a lengthy pro football career, he returned to BYU as an defensive assistant under coach LaVell Edwards, retiring in 1993. -- Jeff Call
BYU 25, Utah 20
Nov. 6, Cougar Stadium
Rivalry lore: It was the first time BYU utilized the forward pass as a weapon in the rivalry, and it triggered a three-game Cougar winning streak over the Utes. It also marked BYU's first win in Provo.
Remembering . . . BYU split end Phil Odle.
Going into the game, Odle, a sophomore, was nursing a badly sprained ankle and hadn't practiced all week. He wasn't planning to play against Utah. At the time, though, he was unfamiliar with the rivalry.
"I came out of the Marine Corps before I went to BYU, and I didn't know anything about this tradition," he says.
But when Utah took a 14-6 lead after one quarter of play, Odle couldn't stand it anymore on the sidelines. He convinced coach Tom Hudspeth to put him in the game. The pain was intense, his mobility was limited and his shoe and ankle were heavily taped, but Odle was able to catch three passes, including one for a touchdown, as the Cougars scored 19 unanswered points in the second quarter. That was all BYU needed to down the Utes.
"I think we surprised them in the second quarter," Odle says, who finished the day with four receptions for 79 yards. "They didn't expect me to play. They tried to cover me with a safety. It didn't work." As it turned out, that was the only game that Odle did not start during his BYU career.
Quarterback Virgil Carter completed 16 of 29 passes for 253 yards, with three interceptions and four TD passes. He also rushed for 83 yards. That season, BYU had made a commitment to the pass for the first time, with remarkable results.
Three weeks later, the Cougars traveled to Albuquerque and beat New Mexico, 42-8, to claim their first WAC championship.
Odle was part of the first BYU class never to lose to the Utes, as the Cougars also triumphed in 1966 and 1967.
Odle, who has been in the car business for 24 years, works at the Nissan dealership in Orem and often has the opportunity to rub shoulders with current Cougar coaches. The passion for this rivalry still burns within him.
"I have blue in my blood," he says. -- Jeff Call
BYU 16, Utah 7
Nov. 18, Rice Stadium
Rivalry lore: Under first-year coach LaVell Edwards, BYU downed Utah to snap a four-game losing streak to the Utes. It was a harbinger of things to come as the Cougars would go on to win 18 of the next 20 meetings.
Remembering . . . Senior BYU running back Pete VanValkenburg, who carried the ball 37 times for 158 yards, helping him earn the NCAA rushing title in '72.
Coming into the 1972 game, BYU had lost the previous two contests by a grand total of three points. In '71, Utah's Marv Bateman booted a 32-yard field goal with one minute remaining to give the Utes a 17-15 win. But in 1972, it was the Cougars turn.
VanValkenburg doesn't remember many specific details about that day in Salt Lake City.
"I got dinged in that game. I came out with my head ringing," he says. The historical importance of that triumph is not lost on him, however.
"It meant we were coming of age," says VanValkenburg. "It was a huge win. We won the Beehive Boot and we felt a huge sense of accomplishment. It was a turning point for BYU's program. It was the start of a winning tradition."
At the time, though, nobody, including VanValkenburg, could have foreseen that the Cougars would dominate the series over the ensuing 20 years.
"That first year that LaVell took over, we weren't picked to do well, near the bottom of the conference," VanValkenburg says. BYU finished in a second-place tie in the WAC and posted a 7-4 record.
As for VanValkenburg, he finished the year with 1,386 yards (which was tops in the country that season and stands as the single-season record at BYU). He went on to a three-year NFLcareer, playing for Buffalo, Chicago and Green Bay.
Later, he was a graduate assistant at BYU before serving as the running backs coach for nine years at Dixie College in St. George.
Today, he is a geology professor at Dixie -- a fitting topic to teach for a guy remembered still at Quarterback U. for his prolific ground game. -- Jeff Call
Utah 23, BYU 22
November 18, Rice Stadium
Rivalry lore: Utah scores its first-ever win over LaVell Edwards, who had won the previous six meetings dating back to his arrival on the scene in 1972.
Remembering . . . JC-transfer quarterback Randy Gomez's 20-for-31, heroic three touchdown effort.
Looking back on it now, as offensive coordinator at Gavilan College in northern California, Randy Gomez says it wasn't such a terrible thing BYU did in 1977, when it re-inserted Cougar quarterback Marc Wilson late in a 38-8 blowout in Provo against Utah so that he could break some NCAA records. Wilson had 582 yards of total offense and 571 yards passing in that 1977 game.
He knows now that such records are an important part of big-time football, "but at the time, we were pretty upset when they put him back in," says Gomez, who was the Utah quarterback just eight games removed from JC ball.
Gomez and his Utah teammates remembered how they felt that day.
Jim McMahon had already taken advantage of a Gomez interception to throw a 37-yard scoring pass to Lloyd Jones, and the Cougars were quickly up 10-0. Brent Johnson kicked two more field goals and BYU was on its way to another rout, up 16-0 at halftime with a Holiday Bowl bid and Western Athletic Conference title already assured. The crowd was heading for the exits at intermission.
Gomez, recalling the beating BYU put on the year before, rallied the Utes beginning with a quick 25-yard touchdown pass to Jim Teahan. It was the first of three second-half TDs Gomez would throw, including the winner with 2:56 left on a fourth-and-15 situation to Frank Henry.
"I remember it as good as the day I played it," said Gomez of the last-minutes 23-22 Utah win, the first ever for the Utes against a LaVell Edwards-coached BYU and one that broke a six-year drought in the state's biggest rivalry. -- Linda Hamilton
BYU 24, Utah 14
Nov. 17, Rice Stadium
Rivalry lore: BYU is riding its highest ranking ever, at No. 3, and puts its perfect 10-0 record, its 21-game winning streak and national championship chances on the line.
Remembering . . . BYU junior receiver Glen Kozlowski, who caught eight passes for 162 yards and a touchdown.
You could have called them crazy, but way back in spring ball of 84, BYU players set a goal to win the national championship. While the Cougars did finish No. 1 with a 13-0 mark, there were some close calls along the way. One came in late in the season, when BYU traveled to the U.
"Utah was the biggest game of the year," Kozlowski remembers. "The fans had their 'Zoobie-buster' shirts, and the players came out in their all-red uniforms. They played us tough. That was the best Utah team we played in all the years I was at BYU."
A key play came in the third quarter when quarterback Robbie Bosco threw a wounded duck into a crowd and Kozlowski leaped in the air and caught it.
"That one was up for grabs. It was fate," Koz says. "It was something that happens when you win a national championship." After the play Utah's Erroll Tucker shoved him and Kozlowski threw the ball at him. "Then I whipped out the pistols (formed by his index fingers and thumbs) and started shooting. That really fired up the crowd."
Kozlowski later scored a TD that quarter that gave the Cougars a 17-7 advantage. The Utes cut the lead to 17-14, but BYU sealed the victory on another Bosco TD pass (his third of the day) with seven minutes remaining.
During that game, No. 2 South Carolina was upset by Navy, and not long after No. 3 BYU's game concluded, No. 1 Nebraska lost to archrival Oklahoma. Thanks to a victory over the Utes, the top spot in the polls was all BYU's a couple of days later.
Several years later, his younger brother, David, decided to play football for Utah. "It broke my heart," he says.
Kozlowski played for the Chicago Bears for eight seasons and now is a sports broadcaster on WGN in Chicago. -- Jeff Call
Utah 57, BYU 28
Nov. 19, Rice Stadium
Rivalry lore: Utah -- behind the arm of quarterback Scott Mitchell -- snaps a 10-game losing streak, 57-28, the Utes' largest margin of victory against BYU.
Remembering . . . Sophomore quarterback Scott Mitchell going to the air for 384 yards passing with TDs to Dennis Smith and Carl Harry.
Although BYU offered Springville product Mitchell the chance to play safety or punter, he really wanted to play quarterback, according to his longtime friend and ex-Ute temmate Scott Lieber.
That chance came from Utah coach Jim Fassel who offered the lifetime Cougar fan his chance to play signal-caller -- albeit in Ute crimson.
In 1988, Mitchell, in his second year, set two NCAA records (passing attempts, 533, and yards per game, 392.9).
He also helped give the Utes one of the sweetest wins in school history, a 57-28 whipping of BYU. It still stands as the highest score in the rivalry and the most lopsided score against an Edwards team. Utah broke or tied 26 school and four NCAA records that day and finished its 6-5 season with four straight wins -- the first time it had done that since 1978, the last time the Utes beat the Cougs.
"BYU linemen walked around in front of our student body, raising their hands and saying they hadn't lost in 10 years," said Lieber, an All-American kicker in 1987 held to punting by a leg injury in '88. "We saw that. It was really out of character for a LaVell Edwards team. We were real surprised by it.
"I really believe it helped our defense. Our defense played out of their minds."
Lieber and Mitchell became friends when Mitchell first arrived on campus carrying the baggage of going to Utah and forsaking an LDS mission. A returned missionary, Lieber told Mitchell he had to make his own decisions. Mitchell appreciated the support. Lieber is still Mitchell's advisor and confidante. Mitchell is in his 10th year in the NFL and currently the Ravens' QB. -- Linda Hamilton
BYU 70, Utah 31
Nov. 18, Cougar Stadium
Rivalry lore: BYU reasserted its dominance, a year after losing 57-28 in Salt Lake City, by putting up its highest point total ever against Utah.
Remembering . . . BYU running back Fred Whittingham's three touchdown day.
As lopsided as this game was, it could have been much worse.
How bad was it?
Well, BYU accumulated 750 yards of total offense and scored 10 touchdowns. The Cougars scored on their first seven possessions to take a 49-0 halftime lead and quarterback Ty Detmer was removed from the game with five minutes left -- in the second quarter.
Going into the game, Whittingham, a senior playing in his final game at Cougar Stadium, promised himself that if he scored a touchdown he would throw the football into the stands.
He scored three TDs that day, but he never fulfilled his plan. "I chickened out," Whittingham says. "I knew LaVell would have been angry."
BYU's complete domination probably had something to do with revenge for the previous season and the fact Utah star quarterback Scott Mitchell did not play due to a knee injury.
This was BYU's day.
"It felt weird. It was just as easy as it looked," Whittingham says of the Cougars' amazing success on offense. "It was like we were running against air. It was easy to break tackles and find huge holes. Their defense didn't seem to be there."
But when he comes to Cougar Stadium this weekend, he'll be cheering for Utah. His brother, Kyle, and father, Fred Sr., are defensive coaches at the U. "My philosophy is that blood is thicker than water," says Whittingham, who resides in California, where he is employed as a regional sales manager for McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.
"I have a good relationship with BYU's coaches, but I've got to root for my family. In college, I hated Utah. I thought they were a bunch of bums. But through my brother and dad, and getting to know Ron McBride, my opinion has changed." -- Jeff Call
Utah 34, BYU 31
Nov. 20, Cougar Stadium
Rivalry lore: Utah, which had not won in Provo since 1971, would win the first of two (in)famous 34-31 victories by the Utes, inspiring TV commercials and bumper stickers seen across the state.
You'll remember . . . Utah kicker Chris Yergensen, who calmly booted a game-winning field goal with 25 seconds remaining to give the Utes their first win in Provo since 1971.
The first thing you need to know about Chris Yergensen is that he is not pumping gas. He's a junior high school teacher in California.
For a time, he and BYU defensive lineman Lenny Gomes stood center stage in this rivalry as Yergensen used his foot to boot a 55-yard field goal to win it for the Utes while Gomes used his foot and placed it in his mouth.
"They're low-class losers," Gomes said of Utah after BYU lost. "When I'm making $50,000, they'll be pumping my gas." Gomes quote, partially prompted by Utah fans trying to tear down the goal posts at Cougar Stadium following the game, instantly established his place in Ute-Cougar lore.
Yergensen's kick, which prompted Gomes' comments, culminated a wild, see-saw battle that saw the two teams roll up 65 points and 1,130 yards of total offense while taking nearly four hours.
Today, Yergensen has the ball from that game-winning kick displayed in his home in a glass case, right next to the shoe he used to kick the ball with.
Six years later, he has resurrected his dream of kicking professionally. Soon, he plans to start trying out for Arena League teams with the aim of winding up in the NFL someday.
For now, though, he's getting by on a teacher's salary. "I'm not making the kind of money (Gomes) was talking about," he says, "but I'm happy." -- Jeff Call
BYU 37, Utah 17
Nov. 23, Rice Stadium
Rivalry lore: BYU entered the game with an 11-1 record, ranked in the top 10, and vied for a spot in the first-ever WAC Championship game and a Bowl Alliance bid.
Remembering . . . BYU senior tight end Chad Lewis.
The Lewis family from Orem never had much luck when it came to the BYU-Utah rivalry. When Chad's older brother, Mike, played for the U., the Utes lost all four to the Cougars. Years later, when Chad, a walk-on, played for the Y., BYU lost the first three games, including the pair of 34-31 affairs.
Score it: Rivalry 7, Lewises 0.
So entering his final battle against Utah as a senior, Lewis wanted to end that streak -- no matter how. He did, thanks to some help from his friends in the backfield, Ronney Jenkins and Brian McKenzie. Jenkins, a freshman, rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns while McKenzie, a junior, had 176 yards and one TD. The Cougars dominated, finishing with 366 yards on the ground.
As a result, BYU won in a runaway. And he was thrilled.
"It was something you can't explain," says Lewis, who is now in his third year in the NFL. "I finally got to beat them. You make that game so important. You lose one game and it lasts a year. You go 0-4, and it lasts a lifetime."
By season's end, BYU played in the Cotton Bowl, its first New Year's Day game, and won an NCAA-record 14 victories. -- Jeff Call
BYU 26, Utah 24
November 21, Rice-Eccles Stadium
Rivalry lore: A lucky -- or unlucky (depending on which side of the rivalry you're on) -- bounce earns BYU another trip to the WAC title game.
Remembering . . . Freshman kicker Ryan Kaneshiro, who wore goat horns after missing a 39-yard field goal with time expiring.
Ryan Kaneshiro was a freshman who walked on because his family in Honolulu could afford tuition at Utah better than some other schools.
He took every scoring kick but one in '98 and helped keep Utah neck and neck with BYU through with a field goal and 3-for-3 on PATs, including one on Daniel Jones's 95-yard kickoff return with 2:41 left in the game that left the Utes down 26-24.
The defense held. A 43-yard Jonathan Crosswhite-to-Jones pass got Utah to the BYU 24-yard line. But Jones danced on the sideline as a signal to his grandmother watching on TV, and his celebration penalty moved the Utes back to the Y. 39. Two passes and two rushes later they were to the 15, but with only five seconds left in the game.
"Going into the game I was nervous," says Kaneshiro, "because it's the biggest rivalry in the state. There is a lot riding on the game." But once play began, he recalls being completely focused.
Just prior to the kick, BYU took a timeout to ice the kid. "The only thing was my teammates talking to me. They were all supporting me, but . . . Guys were saying, 'Here's your chance; you can make up for San Diego State,'" Kaneshiro says. That rekindled thoughts of twice planting wrong on a missed a field goal with :19 left in regulation and on an overtime PAT in a 21-20 loss.
"That was all I heard. Even though it was positive, it took my mind off the kick. But on the field, taking my steps, I was prepared and not as nervous as at San Diego State. I overplanted and pushed it right by just a little bit."
Doink. The consequence was a year of discontent on The Hill. The Utes made other mistakes, penalties, a fumble, interceptions, the premeditated celebration. But Kaneshiro was the biggest villain to Ute disappointed followers. It also probably cost Kaneshiro a scholarship; he was promised one if he was the '99 starter, but instead he is an unused backup who doesn't even travel with the team.
But rumors that he contemplated suicide are totally false. He did get a release from the U. and tried to transfer to UCLA -- to be with his girlfriend and to "aim high" as long as he was offering to kick for free -- or to San Diego or Hawaii.
"It didn't work out. After thinking about it, this is probably the best place for me," Kaneshiro said last week on the practice field. -- Jeff Call