by Christian Mott
BYU will have several tests along the way in the 2021 football season. They maybe have the biggest test of all in the second game of the season. The Holy War, just three words, encapsulates one of the longest running rivalries in college football. In the last decade, however, a series that has been fairly even over its almost 100 year history has been a one sided affair. Utah has won in nine straight years. It is tied for the longest win streak in a rivalry series with BYU’s nine game winning streak over the Utes. That was during their own decade of dominance from 1979-1987. Plenty has happened since these two teams last played each other in 2019. Is this finally the year BYU ends the streak?
Utes 2020 and Offseason Review
A detailed preview of the Utes and other PAC-12 teams can be read here. The 2020 season was a down year for Coach Whittingham’s squad as they finished 3-2. The question was how he was going to attack the recuriting side of things. His recruiting class this year can be summarized in one word: good.
With the 29th best class according to 247 Sports, there is a definite trend set by Coach Whittingham and his approach with this class. He locked in and focused on improving his defense and its pass rush depth. Expect incoming freshmen like four star recruits Van Fillinger and Xavier Carlton to play a big part of his rotation. He also nabbed five corners to go with his five dline recruits. The name to look for in the cornerback group is Clark Phillips III who could be a plug and play outside corner day one for coach Whittingham. One thing has been made very clear: the Ute defense should be improved and is the focus of this offseason for the Utes.
How BYU Matches Up
Does the streak end this year? The answer is simple: no. Before the pitchforks come out, here is why this streak will continue. Both teams have great talent and in the last three years Coach Sitake has really taken BYU to new heights. However, the high flying Cougars will come back to earth in this game. The difference in this game will be two things: coaching and depth.
On the #SwoopSaturday podcast (which you can listen to on Apple or Spotify) the importance of having someone’s number was mentioned. For some reason, a certain matchup just purely goes to one party even though both groups are talented. Think about the lopsided rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Whittingham has Sitake’s number and until it has been proven otherwise,
The other major factor as mentioned before is depth. Whittingham has loaded up on defense. The depth will come in big late in that game when both teams are gassed. As good of a job as Sitake has done in building the Cougars, they’re still just a bit too far away. If college football however has taught anything, it’s that anything can happen any given weekend. However, Cougar fans will have to wait at least one more game for that elusive win.
Featured image courtesy Chris Gardner / Getty Images