In Washington the Huskies and Cougars play for the Apple Cup. In Oklahoma the Sooners and Cowboys play for the Bedlam Bell. And in the Beehive State the featured in-State rivals BYU and Utah play for the Old Wagon Wheel.
BREAKING NEWS: The Utah Utes don’t play BYU for this esteemed trophy and as former BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall stated, there is a school 80 miles north of Salt Lake that, when playing BYU, “is the featured in-State rivalry”. Ute fans may scoff at this but here are some solid facts that support this claim:
1. The close proximity of the series: BYU leads the series 48 to 35 and there are three ties in there as well. It has been closely contested for the majority of the series. Excluding those ties, 21 of those games have been decided by one possession. BYU and USU have traded off more wins in recent memory than the Holy War rivalry. Utah State has beaten BYU two times since the last time BYU beat Utah in 2009. The longest win streak was 10 games set by BYU from 1983-1992 and 1994-2009.
In contrast, Utah owns a commanding 60-34-4 lead on BYU and at one point Utah didn’t lose to BYU from 1898 until 1942, spanning almost both world wars. Sure there were 3 ties in there but the Utes won 18 games in that stretch. With the exception of the Lavell Edwards era the series has been mostly lopsided, and that only makes it a one way rivalry. Utah is BYU’s Super Bowl and BYU is just another game to Utah. Utah has nothing to gain and everything to lose by playing BYU. In contrast BYU has everything to gain and nothing to lose by beating Utah. In the USU vs BYU series both teams have a lot to gain.
2, BYU cherry picked Aggie greats: Did you know BYU’s best coach ever was an Aggie? Lavell Edwards played as an offensive lineman for Utah State from 1949-1951. He first took the position in 1972 which started a point when BYU started to catch up and eventually surpass Utah State in the series. Up until that point Utah State was ahead 27-17-3 in the series. If Lavell hadn’t shown up the Cougars wouldn’t have been nearly as relevant. Look at how many Heisman contending quarterbacks Lavell developed. Ty Detmer, Jim McMahon and Steve Young all played for Brigham Young University.
A recent betrayal of the Aggies was none other than local hero Riley Nelson. Having won a championship for Logan High School his senior year, Riley went on to help Utah State win their only game of the year over Fresno State in 2006. The Aggies were so bad that Coach Brent Guy decided to pull the red shirt off.
Riley had a change of heart on his mission and decided on BYU. USU upset BYU in 2010 with hyped quarterback Jake Heaps and were poised to do it again until Riley came in with less than two minutes to complete a 99 yard drive. Riley completed the drive with a BYU caught touchdown pass off the tips of a USU player with seconds remaining.
They don’t like each other: Take a look at what the Aggies did to Brandon Davies in basketball after his honor code violation. Take a look at the vitriol online and the mocking of chants of both student sections. BYU has been copying more than just the Aggie’s shade of blue. Last year they were heard chanting the “I believe” and “Winning Team” cheers.
Anonymous Twitter accounts as cryptic as Kevin Durant are seen mocking each other. Take a look at guys like @boneyfuller on the BYU side and @AggiesUnlimited, who made a hilarious video on the change that many BYU students have made to become Aggies. Both fan bases have paid quite a bit of attention to it this year.
It’s a tough rivalry and the Aggies are on a two game skid to the other blue team referred to as the “Team Down South” but hopefully for the sake of many college football fans in the state of Utah this game will be a tightly contested and celebrated game for years to come.
Kent State and Akron also annually battle for a Wagon Wheel in the MAC (Mid-American Conference) but there is nothing like the Old Wagon Wheel that is fought for in the Beehive State. It is religion vs State, brother vs brother and sometimes in-laws vs in-laws. Either way, a blue team will win in Logan tonight!