No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 23 Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium this week is big.
Saturday’s game will be televised nationally on ABC (5:30 p.m. MT) and carries huge implications for both programs.
Oregon (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12), No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings thanks in part to a road win over No. 4 Ohio State, needs to finish the season with wins over both Utah and Oregon State. If the Ducks can do that, plus win the Pac-12 championship game, it’s likely they make the playoff for the first time since 2014, the first season the playoff was in existence.
Utah (7-3, 6-1 Pac-12) needs to beat either Oregon or Colorado, or have Arizona State lose to either Oregon State or Arizona to win the Pac-12 South.
It will be the seventh time in Utah football history that a top-five team has played against the Utes in Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Here’s a look at the other six games.
1984: No. 3 BYU 24, Utah 14
BYU, ranked No. 3 in The Associated Press poll, entered Rice Stadium looking to continue its undefeated season.
Cougars quarterback Robbie Bosco and BYU beat the Utes as the Cougars extended their rivalry winning streak to six games.
The Utes got on the board first with a rushing touchdown by Molonai Hola, but the Cougars answered with 17 consecutive points. Bosco threw touchdown passes to Adam Haysbert and Glen Kozlowski, and Lee Johnson added a field goal.
BYU led 17-7 in the third quarter, but the Utes cut the lead to three on a Mark Stevens to Therman Beard touchdown pass. The Cougars responded with a Bosco to Kelly Smith touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
Bosco threw for 367 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
BYU went undefeated the rest of the way and beat Michigan in the Holiday Bowl to finish the season No. 1 and win the 1984 national championship.
1990: No. 5 BYU 45, Utah 22
Led by quarterback Ty Detmer, the Cougars‚ ranked No. 5 in the AP poll, scored 28 straight points to defeat rival Utah. The Cougars were riding high after beating No. 1 Miami earlier in the season, but the Utes led 10-7 in the first quarter thanks to a 31-yard field goal by Wayne Lammie and a 56-yard touchdown pass from Mike Richmond to Bryan Rowley.
Then the Cougars took over, with Detmer throwing four touchdown passes, one in the first quarter and three in the second quarter, as BYU built a 35-10 lead at halftime. Micah Matsuzaki, Andy Boyce, Brent Nyberg and Chris Smith each caught touchdowns from Detmer during the scoring run.
Detmer capped off the rout in the fourth quarter, connecting with Eric Drage for a touchdown pass that increased BYU’s lead to 45-16.
Detmer finished the day with 451 yards passing, five touchdowns, and two interceptions, while Richmond threw for 326 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
BYU would go on to win the WAC, but lose to Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl.
2010: No. 3 TCU 47, No. 5 Utah 7
One of the most anticipated games in Utah football history ended up being a nightmare.
ESPN’s “College GameDay” came to Salt Lake City for the first time since 2004 for a matchup between 9-0 TCU, No. 3 in the BCS rankings, and 8-0 Utah, No. 5 in the BCS rankings. The expectation was that the winner would run the table and be ranked high enough to be in a BCS bowl game.
Rice-Eccles Stadium was packed well before kickoff and as loud as it has ever been when the Utes came out of the tunnel, but that was the extent of Utah fans’ cheering for the day.
TCU, led by quarterback Andy Dalton, jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter as Dalton threw two passing touchdowns, including a 93-yard score. Utah punted on every first-half possession except one, which was a fumble by Utes quarterback Jordan Wynn.
The Horned Frogs stretched their lead to as much as 40-0 before Utah got their only touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter.
Dalton finished the day 21-for-26 for 255 yards and three touchdowns. TCU outgained Utah 558-199 on offense. Utah had four turnovers.
TCU would go undefeated and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl to cap off a perfect season.
2013: Utah 27, No. 5 Stanford 21
Utah beat a top-five team at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the first time ever, beating Stanford, ranked No. 5 in the AP poll, 27-21. Stanford already had wins against No. 23 Arizona State and No. 15 Washington.
The Utes were holding onto a six-point lead with the 5-0 Cardinal, led by quarterback Kevin Hogan, facing third-and-2 at the Utah 6-yard line. Hogan’s play-action pass was incomplete, setting up fourth-and-2 with 50 seconds left. On fourth down, Jared Norris was unblocked and pressured Hogan, whose throw sailed out of the back of the end zone to win the game for Utah. Fans rushed the field to celebrate.
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns and Bubba Poole ran for 111 yards. Wide receiver Dres Anderson had 82 yards receiving and a touchdown, and also scored a rushing touchdown. Kicker Andy Phillips made two field goals, including a 48-yarder in the fourth quarter that increased the Utes’ lead to six.
Stanford went on to win the Pac-12 championship game and go to the Rose Bowl, where the Cardinal lost to No. 4 Michigan State.
It was a defining win for the Utes, who had just joined the Pac-12 two seasons ago.
2014: No. 4 Oregon 51, No. 17 Utah 27 (CFP rankings)
It’s a game that was remembered because of Kaelin Clay’s gaffe, Oregon, No. 4 in the CFP rankings, bolstered its resume with a dominant win over No. 17 Utah.
Utah inserted Kendal Thompson at quarterback for Utah’s first drive of the game, and Thompson led Utah down the field for a touchdown. The Utes held the Ducks scoreless in the first quarter.
At the beginning of the second quarter, Travis Wilson connected with a wide-open Clay, who scored a 79-yard touchdown, sending Rice-Eccles Stadium into a frenzy and putting the Utes up two scores.
Or so everyone in the stadium thought.
Clay actually dropped the ball before the goal line and began celebrating, along with his Utah teammates. The ball was on the ground for five seconds, then the teams realized what had just happened. A Utah offensive player actually wrestled the ball away from Oregon’s Erick Dargan, who grabbed the ball originally, but Oregon’s Joe Walker picked up that fumble and ran to the other end zone.
Instead of a 14-0 game, it was 7-7.
The air went out of the stadium and momentum shifted to Oregon. The Ducks scored two more touchdowns and a field goal, going up 24-7 before Andy Phillips kicked a field goal to make it 24-10 at halftime.
Utah regained composure and chipped away at Oregon’s lead, cutting it to three points early in the fourth quarter on a Wilson to Westlee Tonga touchdown pass, but the Ducks scored three straight touchdowns, including a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown by Marcus Mariota, to win.
Oregon ended up winning the Pac-12 and making the first-ever College Football Playoff. The Ducks beat Florida State in the semifinals before losing to Ohio State in the national championship.
2016: No. 4 Washington 31, No. 17 Utah 24
ESPN’s “College GameDay” made an appearance again in Salt Lake City for a top-20 matchup.
7-0 Washington, No. 4 in the AP poll, and 7-1 Utah, No. 17 in the AP poll, met at Rice-Eccles Stadium, with quarterbacks Jake Browning and Troy Williams battling. The two teams also had great running backs in Myles Gaskin and Joe Williams, who both rushed for over 150 yards in the game.
The two sides battled back and forth all game, with the Utes taking a 17-14 lead on a touchdown pass from Williams to Siaosi Wilson in the third quarter. Washington took a 24-17 lead on a field goal and a touchdown pass from Browning to John Ross.
With nine minutes left, Utah tied the game after Williams threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Evan Moeai.
Still tied at 24, the Utes were forced to punt deep in their own end zone with three minutes remaining. Mitch Wishnowsky had a great punt, but Dante Pettis had a better return, avoiding a few tackles and taking it 58 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Williams would lead Utah to the Washington 26-yard-line in an attempt to tie the game, but was sacked on third down and threw an incomplete pass on fourth down.
The Huskies would win the Pac-12 and go to the College Football Playoff, but lose to Alabama in the semifinals.