Top 10 Holy War Matchups for the Utes

by Zach Reger | After 100 meetings, the Utah and BYU rivalry has a ton of history. Within the 124 years since they played their first game, there have been many ups and downs for both Utah and BYU. Utah leads the rivalry 62-34-4 and are currently on a 9-game win streak. As the leading team in the rivalry, Utah has had many great games. Narrowing it to a Top 10 was difficult, but it needed to be done since their 101st matchup was originally scheduled for earlier this week. To hear more about these games, listen to our 2-part Swoop Saturday Podcast episode here or on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Honorable mentions:
2016 Utah 20 – BYU 19

A failed two-point conversion was the difference in this one. Taysom Hill ran in for a 7-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the game. Instead of opting for tying the game, BYU went for the win. Taysom Hill was stopped at the goal line, making the now-Swiss-Army-Knife for the New Orleans Saints winless against the Utes in his college career.

2018 Utah 35 – BYU 27

With Jason Shelley at quarterback, the Utes trailed 20-0 in the third quarter. Julian Blackmon then got a pick-6 that changed the momentum and gave Utah their first score. This score was the start of Utah’s 28-7 run that helped them take the lead with 3 minutes left in the game. Jason Shelley sealed the game with a 33-yard touchdown run and the Utes won their 8th straight Holy War.

And now, the Top 10:

10. 1896 Utah 12 – Brigham Young Academy 4

While there have been plenty of great Holy War matchups, the 1st ever Holy War is worth mentioning. There is some debate that this was not the first Holy War since it was officially Brigham Young Academy and not Brigham Young University. However, Utah dominated the series early even if you consider 1922 to be the 1st Holy War. This offensive explosion of 12-4 was the first game of the season in 1896, and Utah finished with 3 wins and 2 losses that season.

9. 2015 Utah 35 – BYU 28

The Holy War in Sin City was full of firsts in Holy War History. It was the first Utah-BYU matchup that happened in the postseason, and it was the first Holy War at a neutral location. This game broke the supposed hiatus from 2014 and 2015, as they got scheduled to play each other in the Las Vegas Bowl. Utah won their 5th straight Holy War in a close one in Sin City.

8. 2005 Utah 41 – BYU 34

Speaking of firsts, the 2005 Holy War also contained multiple. It was the first ever overtime game between Utah and BYU. That means it took 109 years for there to be an overtime in the Holy War. This as also the first time that Kyle Whittingham and Bronco Mendenhall faced each other as head coaches. These two formed a great rivalry over 10 seasons. One last wrinkle that occurred in this game was that Utah started their backup quarterback who came in and accounted for all 5 of Utah’s touchdowns.

7. 2004 Utah 52 – BYU 21

Even though the game itself was not close, the 2004 Holy War is still deserving to be on this list. Utah was 10-0 heading into this game looking for an undefeated season. BYU was not having a great year in 2004, but rivalries are never a gimme. Utah took care of business and clinched a Fiesta Bowl appearance. This made the Utes the first non-BCS conference team to play in a BCS bowl. Utah went on to beat Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl 35-7.

6. 2008 Utah 48 – BYU 24

Similar to 2004, the 2008 Fiesta Bowl was also not close on the scoreboard, but it meant a lot to the program. This game was actually pretty close as well. Utah was ranked #8 and BYU was #16. After the 3rd quarter, Utah was only winning 27-24. 21 unanswered points for the Utes in the 4th quarter was the difference. Utes QB Brian Johnson was 30-36 for 303 yards and 4 touchdowns. This win kept Utah perfect for the second time in 4 years and gave them the opportunity to upset Alabama in the Sugar Bowl 31-17.

5. 1978 Utah 23 – BYU 22

The Lavell Edwards era was not a pretty one for Utes fans. Lavell Edwards became BYU’s head coach in 1973 and hosted a 22-7 Holy War record before retiring in 2000. With wins being tough to come by, the Utes first win against Edwards was an important one. This is what occurred in 1978. Utah was down multiple scores in the 3rd quarter before coming back and winning 23-22.

4. 1993 and 1994 Utah 34 – BYU 31

This may be cheating but when 2 games have the exact same score 1 year apart, it makes sense. In 1993, the Utes were big underdogs, but Chris Yergensen kicked a 55-yard field goal to win the game. This snapped a 4-game winning streak for BYU. In 1994, it was the first Holy War where both Utah and BYU were ranked when they played. It was a close game and the Utes scored in the final minute then forced a fumble to secure their win. This was the first time Utah won consecutive Holy Wars since 1968-1971.

3. 2010 Utah 17 – BYU 16

The 2010 Holy War featured yet another Utes comeback. Utah was losing 13-0 in the 3rd quarter, then score 10 unanswered to close the gap. In the 4th quarter, the Utes were down 16-10. With just over 4 minutes left in the game, Utah scored a touchdown to take the lead. BYU then drove down the field and attempted a 42-yard field goal with 4 seconds left. The Utes blocked this kick and Utah started their 9-game winning streak over BYU.

2. 1988 Utah 57 – BYU 28

Yes, this game was a 29-point game. However, there was a lot of significance behind this win. Heading into the game, Utah was double-digit underdogs. They had a .500 record while BYU was 8-2. To make matters worse for Utah, they had to start their backup quarterback, Scott Mitchell. Mitchell and the Utes exploded out of the gate and went on to score 57 points. This is still the most points that Utah has scored in a Holy War. This was also Utah’s first Holy War victory in 10 years.

1. 2012 Utah 24 – BYU 21

This game was so exciting that the fans rushed the field three times. BYU was ranked #25 and Utah was unranked. It was a close game throughout, but the last minute was when it really got interesting. BYU got the ball back with just over a minute left. They began their drive at the 9-yard line after a good punt by the Utes. On 4th and 12, BYU completed a 47-yard pass to get into field goal range. BYU then threw an incomplete pass and the game-clock expired. Utes fans stormed the field after thinking they just beat their ranked rival. After review, there was 1 second left on the clock, and fans had to return to their seats. BYU then set up for a 51-yard field goal and it was blocked. The Utes fans once again stormed the field. However, they stormed the field while the play was still going on. This resulted in a 15-yard penalty and 1 untimed down. BYU then attempted a much more manageable 36-yard field goal, but it hit the upright. Utes fans rushed the field for a 3rd and final time as they beat BYU 24-21.

Featured image via Vanquish the Foe.


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