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Rock Report: U. favored by fans at both schools

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In its never-ending quest to illuminate, illustrate and exacerbate, the Rock Report returned this week to see who will win Saturday's BYU-Utah game. No stone was left unturned, no expense spared.

In the process, the Report incurred one parking ticket, two parking lot charges and $8 worth of gas.

It was well worth the expenditure. The results, as usual, were intriguing.

For the second straight year, BYU fans appear to be feeling antsy.

That loss to TCU must have done some serious psychological damage.

"I know who I think is going to win, but I feel guilty saying it," said Jeff, a business management major at BYU. "Honestly, I think Utah is going to win. But I think BYU has a chance if it plays really good and Utah plays mediocre."

But, he added, "I cheer for BYU all the way."

For those new to the Rock Report, it is an entirely unbiased, unscientific poll, whereby students at the University of Utah and BYU are quizzed on the annual football game. This year's game carries more than average significance, because both teams are ranked and the game has championship and BCS implications.

Considering Utah is 11-0 and BYU 10-1, you would think the predictions would divide evenly, according to school.

Not so.

This year's polling revealed an undercurrent of concern among Cougar students. Of 20 people interviewed, 75 percent think Utah will win. All 10 students at Utah and five at BYU picked the Utes. Which

means one of two things: Either Utah is really good, or BYU students are just more objective.

Or maybe that TCU game just scared the daylights out of them.

On the BYU campus, two women and one man picked the Cougars. Two others refused to guess.

Unlike some years, the Rock Report found almost everyone well-versed on the big game. Usually there's someone so stuck on saving the phytoplankton that they simply can't worry about football.

Reasons for Utah rating higher in the poll varied. Shannon, a health promotion major at Utah, picked the Utes by a field goal, saying, "I've got Louie (Sakoda). Yeah! Wooh! He's my baby!"

Candace, also a health promotion major, added that she has the Utes favored by two touchdowns.

"A touchdown pass to Bradon Godfrey will seal the deal," she said.

Despite two years of losing to BYU, there appears to be a certain bullishness among Ute students. On the Utah campus, one woman wouldn't predict a score but said the Utes will win by "a landslide."

Asked if he wanted to venture a prediction on the game, Ken, a sophomore biology major, said, "Damn right I do."

He proceeded to pick the Utes, 44-7.

Added Phil, a biomedical engineering major: "I don't think the hail Marys (passes) will work this time."

David, a commercial recreation major from Maine, said he is well aware of the Utah-BYU rivalry. Asked by the Rock Report when he realized the intensity of the conflict, he said, "As soon as I moved here."

Quick learner, that David.

Although half the students at BYU picked the Utes, it clearly pained them. Brenda, an elementary education major, predicted a six-point Utah win but added, "It's going to be really close. We're almost their Kryptonite."

Added Jeff, the aforementioned business management major, "We're each other's Kryptonite."

Which one is Lex Luthor and which is Superman they didn't say.

BYU's defense was a recurring theme among students at the Provo school.

Those who did pick BYU to win did so by a narrow margin. Utah students picked the Utes to win by an average of 13 points. Utah graded out a two-point favorite by BYU students.

Nobody this year complained about football being insignificant, though one BYU student named Seth labeled the Cougars "a little overrated."

Self-described "ultra-mega super senior" Heber, a mathematics education major at BYU, didn't pick a winner, but he did strike a nice tone for the game.

"Everybody wins," he said. "It's an entertaining event."

Entertaining, yes. But everyone a winner?

Try selling that to the losing team.

E-mail: rock@desnews.com