SALT LAKE CITY — Utah and Weber State don’t have a rich history when it comes to football.
Unlike its long tradition with Utah State (112 games) and BYU (98 games), Utah has met Weber State a grand total of four times — twice in the past decade and twice more than 30 years ago. And the games have not been competitive, with the Utes winning by an average score of 47-13.
The Utes have played FCS opponents such as Weber six of the past seven years, always against Big Sky opponents — North Dakota last year, Southern Utah in 2016, Idaho State in 2014, Northern Colorado in 2012, Montana State in 2011 as well as the Wildcats in 2013.
When asked earlier this week if the Utes should play in-state schools such as Weber State and SUU every year rather than other FCS schools, coach Kyle Whittingham replied, “If it brings more dollars to the state of Utah and the programs in the state, that’s a good thing, but outside of that, I don’t have a preference either way.”
The Utes are scheduled to play FCS schools in each of the next six seasons, and it looks like they are trying to concentrate more on in-state schools, including games against Weber State in 2021 and 2023 and Southern Utah in 2022 and 2024. Next year, the Utes are scheduled to play Idaho State and in 2020, Montana State.
Here’s a look back at the four games the Utes and Wildcats have played:
Oct. 15, 1978 — Utah 30, Weber State 7 — The first-ever meeting between the Utes and Wildcats was no contest as Utah racked up nearly 500 yards of total offense behind the running of Tony Lindsey and passing of Randy Gomez. The Utes ran out to a 21-7 halftime lead and tacked on a safety in third quarter and a touchdown in the fourth.
Ute coach Wayne Howard was happy with the win, but unhappy with the near-record 187 yards in penalties and nearly 200 yards in passing by Weber (“Our secondary looked like a sieve,” Howard said)
Weber State coach Pete Riehlman questioned whether the game should have ever been played in the first place.
“We can’t play with Utah, no question about it,” he said. “We didn’t even try to get them up for this game. What did this game mean to the kids? Not much. We have some conference games we think we can win. Those are the games that are important to us.”
Sept. 1, 1984 — Utah 52, Weber State 16 — This game got lost in the shuffle as it came on the same day BYU knocked off No. 3 Pitt, the first win of its undefeated season. It might have been overlooked anyway because it was such a blowout for Chuck Stobart’s Utes, who had 530 yards of total offense, 404 on the ground alone.
After losing to I-AA school Boise State in 1980 and getting a scare from Montana State in 1982, the Utes were wary of the Wildcats, coached by Mike Price, who went on to coach at Washington State for several years.
Before the game, Price joked that his team might come out in a “four-corner stall” like the North Carolina basketball team and said, “We don’t even want to come out of the locker room.”
The Wildcats stayed close early as the Utes actually trailed 7-0 in the second quarter before finally getting it in gear when Gerald Johnson broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown run. Thurman Beard, George Womack and Eddie Johnson each scored to give Utah a 28-10 halftime lead, and the Utes tacked on three more in the second half, two by quarterback Mark Stevens and another by Johnson.
Sept. 27, 2008 — Utah 37, Weber State 21 — This was the fifth game of what turned out to be Utah’s second undefeated season in five years.
The 17th-ranked Utes were playing against former Ute coach Ron McBride, and some folks figured that they didn’t want to run the score up against the former Ute. However, their subdued manner after the game showed they expected a lot more.
“We got the win … we’d like to play great every week. But no team does. We certainly would have liked to play better,” said coach Kyle Whittingham.
The game was tied 7-7 when Brian Johnson’s 6-yard pass to Colt Sampson early in the second quarter put the Utes up for good. By halftime it was 24-7, and the Utes added Louie Sakoda’s third field goal of the game and a Matt Asiata TD run.
The Utes did take their foot off the gas and the Wildcats tacked on a pair of late touchdowns against Utah’s reserves.
McBride was happy with his team’s performance, saying, “Like I told our guys, we can play with these guys because we just did.”
2013 — Utah 70, Weber State 7 — Unlike the three previous victories when it took the Utes a while to get going against the Wildcats, this one was over in the opening minutes.
After slipping past Utah State by just four points in the season-opener the week before, the Utes jumped all over the Wildcats, racing out to a 49-0 halftime lead and then coasting home with their biggest point output in 40 years.
Utah finished with 528 yards of total offense compared to just 202 for Weber State, whose coach Jody Sears was let go after the season and replaced by Ute assistant Jay Hill.
Although it was one of their most decisive wins ever and put them 2-0 on the season, the Utes went on to finish just 5-7 for the second straight year.