Holy War (BYU–Utah)

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Holy War (BYU vs. Utah)
SportAmerican college football
First meetingApril 6, 1896
Utah, 12–4
Latest meetingAugust 29, 2019
Utah, 30–12
Next meetingSeptember 11, 2021
StadiumsLaVell Edwards Stadium (BYU)
Rice–Eccles Stadium (Utah)
TrophyBeehive Boot
Meetings total100
All-time seriesUtah leads, 62–34–4
Largest victoryBYU: 56–6 (1980)
Longest win streakUtah: 9 (1929–37, 2010–present)
BYU: 9 (1979–1987)
Longest unbeaten streakUtah: 21 (1898–1941)
Current win streakUtah, 9 (2010–present)
Locations of BYU and Utah

The Holy War is the name given to the BYU–Utah football rivalry.[1] It is an American college football rivalry game played by the Brigham Young University (BYU) Cougars and University of Utah Utes. The game is part of the larger BYU–Utah rivalry. In this rivalry context, the term "Holy War" refers to the fact that BYU is owned and administered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the University of Utah is a public university owned and administered by the state of Utah, with a traditionally large LDS student population. [2] The proximity of the two schools, the athletic successes of the two teams, and the longevity of the series also contribute to the rivalry.[3]

Both teams played in the same conference from 1922 to 2010 and the Holy War game often decided the conference title. Despite Utah moving to the Pac-12 Conference in 2011 and BYU becoming an independent that same year, the two universities agreed to play between 2011 and 2013 prior to a brief interruption in the series for 2014 and 2015 — the first since 1943 to 1945, when BYU did not field a team due to World War II. Games have since been scheduled until 2028.

The two-year hiatus was unexpectedly cut short when the 2015 Las Vegas Bowl pitted BYU against Utah, creating the "Holy War in Sin City" in the postseason.

Rivalry components[edit]

There are a number of components that make the Holy War particularly fierce. The University of Utah and Brigham Young University are two of the biggest colleges in the state of Utah. As the name of the rivalry implies, religion is a large component to the rivalry. The University of Utah has a large LDS student population while Brigham Young University is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has an almost entirely LDS student population.[4] The long length of rivalry is also a major element.[3]


There's too much religion involved. I did not like that. I really didn't.

— Former Utah head coach Wayne Howard[5]

The University of Utah is the flagship university of the state of Utah, a state known for its substantial LDS population and being home to the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while Brigham Young University is the flagship university of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The matchup has been described as taking on religious, or "church vs. state" undertones.[3][6]


The two schools disagree on when the first game was played. Utah claims that the first game was played in 1896 against Brigham Young Academy. BYU's athletic website shows their schedule dating back to 1922, but no earlier.[7] Utah claims a lead of 61–34–4, while BYU claims Utah leads 58–31–4. BYU does not count the six games between Utah and Brigham Young Academy in its records.

Utah has a large lead in the overall series and has dominated the rivalry both prior to 1972 (41–8–4) and since 1993 (18–7). From 1972 to 1992 BYU dominated the series with a record of 19–2 versus Utah. Since 1980, when BYU won 56-6, the largest point spread is 44 points, which occurred in 2011 when Utah won 54–10 in Provo.[8]


When Brigham Young came into the valley, he pointed to where the University of Utah would be and said, "This is the place." Provo was just an afterthought.

— Former Utah Head Coach Ron McBride[9]

BYU, which is in Provo, Utah, and the University of Utah, which is in Salt Lake City, are about 50 miles (80 km) apart and approximately an hour's drive away on Interstate 15.[10] Consequently, the two teams compete for recruits[11] and fan support.[12] It is not uncommon for friends, neighbors, and even family members to have opposite allegiances.[3]

Successful teams[edit]

While the two teams have not necessarily been strong at the same time, the two teams had the most conference championships in the Mountain West Conference (MW) before both left the MW in 2011. Each team has had four conference championships since the creation of the MW in 1999.[13] Including championships of other conferences, Utah has 24 conference championships in its history,[14] while BYU has 23.[15] Both of these numbers are well ahead of the current MW member with the most conference championships, Colorado State, who has 15.[16] Other than the 2011 meeting, the recent games in the Holy War have tended to be close, with the final score of fifteen of the last nineteen games being within a touchdown (seven points, including a successful conversion kick) or less.[8] BYU lays claim to a consensus national championship for going undefeated in 1984 and beating Michigan in the 1984 Holiday Bowl.

During the era of the now-defunct Bowl Championship Series (1998–2013), Utah played in two BCS bowls: the 2005 Fiesta Bowl (a 35–7 victory over Pitt) and the 2009 Sugar Bowl (a 31–17 victory over Alabama). For these BCS bowl victories, Utah finished ranked in the AP Poll #4 and #2, respectively. Many sports media members and observers, including ESPN's Rick Reilly, argued that Utah (the nation's lone undefeated FBS team) should have been awarded the AP National Championship and should have been selected to play Florida in the BCS title game. Utah had been selected by at least one National organization as the number one team for the 2008 season.

Fanbase comparisons[edit]

In 2011 the New York Times polled fans of all current FBS schools to rank them according to the size of their respective fan bases. BYU was ranked #43 nationally with 709,864 people self-identifying as BYU fans while Utah was ranked #67 with 351,939 people self-identifying as fans.[17]

In 2017 Utah saw an average of 45,913 fans attend home games and 52,489 fans on the road (including a bowl game). Rice-Eccles Stadium holds a maximum of 45,807 meaning that the stadium was always over 100% capacity and utilized standing-room-only areas.

BYU averaged 56,267 fans at home and 35,019 at away games. LaVell Edwards Stadium has a capacity of 63,470 meaning that the stadium was filled, on average, at only 88% of capacity.

Series history[edit]

The University of Deseret[edit]

The University of Deseret was established February 28, 1850 by the General Assembly of the provisional State of Deseret. This date is enshrined on The Seal of the University of Utah. The University of Deseret closed in 1853 and was reestablished in 1867. In 1892, the school's name was changed to the University of Utah, to coincide with Utah's first Football team, who won 1 and lost 2 in their first campaign, including a loss to future rival Utah State. The University of Utah was controlled by The Church from its founding until well after Statehood in 1896.

The Brigham Young Academy years[edit]

Before 1903, BYU was known as Brigham Young Academy (BYA).[18] During the 1890s, Utah and BYA played six times in football. The two schools split the series 3–3.[19]

BYA stopped playing football in 1900, following a player death,[20] and did not start again until 1922, after it had become Brigham Young University (BYU). BYU does not recognize these first six meetings as it only recognizes football games played from 1922 onward.[21]

Utah's early dominance[edit]

After twenty-three years of not having a team, BYU resumed play for the 1922 season.[3] Utah began its early dominance over BYU with a 49–0 victory on October 14, 1922. BYU would not get another win in the series until 1942, when the Cougars shocked the Utes 12–7 at Utah. The rivalry then took a hiatus from 1943 to 1945 because BYU did not field a team due to World War II. When the rivalry continued in 1946, the Utes continued their domination over the Cougars, winning or tying the next twelve contests. Save for a three-year BYU winning streak from 1965–1967, the rivalry continued this trend through the 1971 season, at which point Utah had amassed a 41–8–4 (.811) record against BYU.

The LaVell Edwards era[edit]

In 1972, the rivalry shifted in favor of BYU. The Cougars had hired LaVell Edwards and in his first season, BYU beat Utah 16–7 for BYU's first victory over Utah in four years. The win signaled the beginning of BYU's dominance against Utah. From 1972 to 1992, BYU went 19–2 (.905) against Utah.

During those years, Utah went through a series of coaches that all ended with losing records against LaVell Edwards and BYU. Bill Meek's Utes went 0–2 against Edwards during Meek's last two years (1972–1973). Tom Lovat (1974–1976) was 0–3. Wayne Howard (1977–1981) was 1–4. Chuck Stobart (1982–1984) was 0–3. Jim Fassel was 1–4. Finally, Utah found some success when it hired Ron McBride in 1990. McBride would finish with a 5–6 record against LaVell Edwards, but he started with three consecutive losses to Edwards.[8]

1977–1981: Edwards versus Howard[edit]

Wayne Howard's Crusade[edit]
The hatred between BYU and Utah is nothing compared to what it will be. It will be a crusade to beat BYU from now on.

— Utah coach Wayne Howard, 1977[9]

During the 1977 meeting, BYU was on the way to winning in a 38–8 blowout. Nonetheless, LaVell Edwards put starting quarterback Marc Wilson back into the game so Wilson could set an NCAA record for passing yards. Wilson succeeded in setting the record (subsequently broken) and finished the game with 571 passing yards. The incident infuriated Utah head coach Wayne Howard. After the game, he said, "This today will be inspiring. The hatred between BYU and Utah is nothing compared to what it will be. It will be a crusade to beat BYU from now on. This is a prediction: in the next two years Utah will drill BYU someday, but we won’t run up the score even if we could set an NCAA record against them."[9] The next year, Wayne Howard made good on his promise. The Utes came from behind to upset the Cougars 23–22. The 1978 win was Utah's first against a LaVell Edwards coached BYU team.

Jim McMahon says, "Scoreboard."[edit]
What I hated the most about BYU was getting trounced.

— Former Utah tight end Steve Folsom [22]

During the 1980 Holy War, BYU quarterback Jim McMahon helped engineer a blowout. Most of the game he was heckled by a contingent of Utah fans at Rice Stadium. After throwing for another touchdown late in the 56–6 win, he simply pointed at the scoreboard to quiet the hecklers. The game was in the midst of a 12–1 BYU season. It was also their second consecutive win against Utah and their eighth win out of the last nine games against Utah.[23] The fifty point margin of victory is the largest for either team in the series.[8]

1982–1984: Edwards versus Stobart[edit]

On November 17, 1984, BYU entered the Holy War 10–0 and ranked #3 in the AP Poll. BYU overcame several turnovers to win 24–14. BYU would finish the season 13–0 and the only undefeated team in Division I-A (now the Football Bowl Subdivision). They were voted number one in the final AP Poll as well as the Coaches' Poll to become consensus national champions. This was the last time a team outside the current Power Five conferences won a national championship; the next most recent was Army in 1945.

1985–1989: Edwards versus Fassel[edit]

The Rice Bowl[edit]

In 1988, Utah had not beaten BYU since 1978 and entered the Holy War as 11-point underdogs. Utah had a mediocre 5–5 record while BYU was 8–2 and had already accepted an invitation to the Freedom Bowl. BYU looked ready to humiliate the Utes again. Instead Utah and quarterback Scott Mitchell jumped on BYU early and took a 21–0 lead on the way to winning 57–28. The 1988 team set a series record for points scored against BYU—a record that stands today.[24] The game came to be known locally as "the Rice Bowl" because the game was played at Utah's Rice Stadium.[25]

It was just as easy as it looked. It was like we were running against air. It was easy to break tackles and find holes. Their defense didn't seem to be there.

— BYU running back Fred Whittingham[26]

The next year, in 1989, BYU got their revenge. They set a series record by scoring 70 against Utah. BYU jumped to a 49–0 lead before Utah scored its first touchdown just before halftime. Behind quarterback Ty Detmer, BYU would score eight touchdowns on its first eight possessions and amass over 750 yards of total offense during the 70–31 win. Utah would score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter against BYU's reserves.[27] The 101 points the two teams scored is still a series record.[8]

The modern rivalry[edit]

By the mid-1990s, the Cougars' success leveled off from the years of the 1970s and '80s. Around this time, the Utes also improved significantly, and the rivalry became much more competitive.

1990–2000: Edwards versus McBride[edit]

The rivalry began to change in 1993, during Ron McBride's fourth season as head coach, the Utes won their first game in Provo in twenty-two seasons and their first since LaVell Edwards became BYU head coach. Late in the fourth quarter, Utah's kicker Chris Yergensen, who had already missed two out of three field goals on the day, attempted to break the 31–31 tie. This time, Yergensen did not miss and kicked the game-winning 55-yard field goal, the longest of his career, with less than a minute remaining.

All those guys think that's all there is to life. But when I'm making $50–60,000 a year, they'll be pumping my gas. They're low-class losers.

— BYU nose guard Lenny Gomes Gregory on Utah and its fans, 1993[9]

After the win, Utah fans and players attempted to tear down the north end zone goalpost at what was then Cougar Stadium. Cougar players returned to the field to protect the goalpost from being torn down. About the incident, Lenny Gomes, a BYU nose guard, said, "Typical Utah bullshit. All those guys think that's all there is to life. But when I'm making $50–60,000 a year, they'll be pumping my gas. They're low-class losers."[9] The remark is still remembered in rivalry history today.[9][28]

The 1994 season was McBride's best, as he led the Utes to a 10–2 record and a top-10 finish in national rankings. The Utes and Cougars also staged one of the best matchups in the rivalry's history, meeting for the first time as top-25 ranked teams. The Utes won the game 34–31, which was coincidentally the same score of their meeting a year before. Utah ran its rivalry winning streak up to three games a year later, with a 34–17 win at BYU. The Utes and Cougars would trade wins and losses the next couple of years, before the 2000 season.

The Kaneshiro Doink[edit]

In 1998, the first Holy War was played at the newly renovated Rice-Eccles Stadium. BYU entered the game with an 8–3 (6–1 WAC) record and was playing for a berth in the WAC Championship game. Utah entered the game with a 7–3 (5–2 WAC) record and was hoping to land a bowl game and spoil BYU's WAC Championship hopes. BYU took a 26–17 lead when Owen Pochman connected on a 47-yard field goal with 2:41 left to play in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Utah's Daniel Jones returned the ball 95 yards to cut the lead to 26–24. Utah's defense held BYU and forced them to punt. Utah moved the ball to the 15-yard line where Ryan Kaneshiro attempted a 32-yard field goal. The attempt bounced off the right upright, which preserved the win for BYU and caused the goalpost to shake from the "doink".[29]

Utah cheerleader pummels an aggressive fan[edit]
Even our cheerleaders are kicking your butt.

— Utah wide receiver Steve Smith, 1999[26][30]

During the 1999 edition of the Holy War, Utah recorded its fourth consecutive win in Provo. Early in the fourth quarter, Utah scored a touchdown when quarterback T.D. Crowshaw completed a four-yard-pass to Donny Utu to put Utah up 20–10. In celebration, Utah cheerleader Billy Priddis ran along the visitor's sideline with a large "U" flag. A BYU fan[31] who was later banned from the BYU campus, ran onto the sideline and tackled Priddis from behind. Priddis turned around and started punching the fan. He landed seven or eight punches before security separated them. About the incident, Priddis said, "There's 65,000 fans here, does he think I'm not going to retaliate?"[30][dead link]

From now on we're going to leave our flags at home and they should do the same.

— BYU Athletic Director Val Hale, 1999[30]

From the Utah sideline, receiver Steve Smith taunted BYU fans and yelled, "Even our cheerleaders are kicking your butt." BYU's athletic director Val Hale purported to have chastised Priddis and the rest of the Utah cheerleaders. After the game, he said, "I told them from now on we're going to leave our flags at home and they should do the same. All it does is initiate the fans to throw things out of the stands."[30]

Edwards' last game[edit]

Entering the 2000 season, legendary head coach LaVell Edwards announced that he was retiring. His final game as Cougars head coach came against the Utes in Salt Lake City, where BYU won 34–27 with an exciting last-minute drive that ended on a touchdown with little time remaining on the clock.

2001 and 2002: Crowton versus McBride[edit]

In 2001, under new head coach Gary Crowton, BYU entered their game against Utah undefeated and looking to become the first team from outside the BCS to play in a BCS bowl game. A tight game ended with a comeback by BYU. BYU running back Luke Staley raced down the sideline with 1:16 left to play to make it 24–21 and BYU DB Jenaro Gilford intercepted a pass on the ensuing Ute drive to seal the victory. The win gave the Cougars consecutive wins against the Utes for the first time in nearly ten years. The Cougs, however, failed to bust the BCS, losing to Hawaiʻi in their final game.

McBride, who had guided Utah to six bowl games and three bowl wins, entered the 2002 rivalry game in danger of being fired. The Utes had struggled all season long and even with their 13–6 victory against BYU, Utah finished with their second losing season in three years. The 5–6 finish sealed McBride's fate and he was fired in 2002; Weber State University hired him in December 2004.

2003 and 2004: Crowton versus Meyer[edit]

Urban Meyer was hired to replace Ron McBride. Under Meyer, Utah players were not allowed to use the name BYU and began referring rather to the Team Down South or TDS (BYU being about 50 miles south of the University of Utah), imitating Ohio State coach Woody Hayes practice of referring to Michigan as "that team up north." This reference has become a tradition among Utah fans.[32]

Scoring streak ends[edit]

In Meyer's first season, the Utes won the Mountain West Conference and finished 10–2, which was their best record since the 1994 season. The last game of the regular season, Utah beat BYU for the second straight year with a 3–0 victory. The victory snapped BYU's NCAA record for scoring in 361 straight games—BYU's first shutout since a 20–0 loss to Arizona State on September 25, 1975.[33]

BCS busters[edit]
Utah fans carry the goalpost after the Utes defeated the Cougars to complete a perfect regular season
I really hate them. Playing in the game helped me understand. They are the most arrogant people. It's the whole church and state thing. They're the "good kids." We're the "bad kids." I didn't feel it in my gut last year like I do now.

— Utah quarterback Alex Smith, 2004 [34]

In 2004 Utah would have its best season up to that point, going 12–0 and becoming the first team from outside the BCS to play in a BCS bowl game. They went on to win their matchup against Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. The Utes final regular season game, a 52–21 victory over BYU, clinched the invitation to a BCS bowl. Urban Meyer then left Utah for Florida. After the 2004 season, Gary Crowton resigned after finishing with his third consecutive losing season.

2005–2015: Mendenhall versus Whittingham[edit]

In 2005, Bronco Mendenhall and Kyle Whittingham started as head coaches at their respective programs. Whittingham was offered the job at BYU before turning it down and accepting the position at Utah. This has added to the rivalry between the two coaches. Whittingham won the overall series against Mendenhall with a tally of 7–3. Eight of the ten games were decided by a touchdown or less. In a December 17, 2009 column, writer Stewart Mandel called the coaching rivalry the best coaching rivalry of that decade.[35]

First overtime game[edit]

The 2005 season saw some striking parallels between the two programs. Both had replaced their former head coaches, struggled through parts of their seasons, and would finish the regular season with 6–5 records. When the two met in Provo in November 2005, BYU was looking for its first win against the Utes in three seasons. Utah was looking for a winning record and a shot at a bowl game. BYU entered as the favorite because Utah would be playing without its starting quarterback and its best wide receiver, who had been injured in their previous game. The Utes were starting JC transfer Brett Ratliff who had taken just three snaps the week before. Ratliff surprised the Cougars by completing 17 of 32 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns, and rushing for 112 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. He was responsible for all five Utah touchdowns. The Utes won 41–34.

Beck to Harline[edit]

When the two teams met again in November 2006, this time in Salt Lake City, BYU jumped out to an early lead, then fell behind and trailed for much of the game, but finally won it 33–31 with an impressive last-minute drive, capped by a touchdown pass from John Beck to Jonny Harline with no time on the clock. The win gave BYU an undefeated record of 8–0 in Mountain West Conference play. Harline caught the pass on his knees in the end zone with no Utah defender near him. The play led to BYU fans creating and wearing T-shirts reading "Harline's still open."[36]

Magic happens[edit]
Obviously, when you're doing what's right on and off the field, I think the Lord steps in and plays a part in it. Magic happens.

— BYU wide receiver Austin Collie, 2007[37]

In 2007, the teams clashed on November 24, in what was a mostly defensive game. The game's first 12 points were only field goals, BYU's Mitch Payne scoring 9 points. Utah then scored the first touchdown, taking the lead 10–9. In the fourth quarter, BYU came back with a late-game drive that included a 4th and 18 from its own 12-yard line. Four plays later, freshman running back Harvey Unga bulled into the endzone to win it 17–10. Austin Collie, who caught the Max Hall pass to convert the 4th and 18 to a first down said about the play, "I wouldn't say it was lucky. We executed the play well. We should have had another one. Obviously, when you're doing what's right on and off the field, I think the Lord steps in and plays a part in it. Magic happens."[37][38] The comment further fueled the religious animosity between the two teams.

BCS busting... again[edit]

Only four years removed from shocking the college football world in 2004 and becoming the first team from outside the BCS to bust into the BCS, Utah returned to the national stage by going undefeated throughout the year. The game was fairly even until Utah scored a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the half to put the Utes up by 10. In the second half, BYU cut the lead to three by the end of the third quarter but couldn't keep Utah out of the endzone in the fourth quarter. Utah would score three times in the final quarter to win 48–24.

Second overtime game[edit]
BYU fans storm the field after the overtime win of the Cougars in the 2009 game
I don't like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans. I hate everything. It felt really good to send those guys home.

— BYU quarterback Max Hall, 2009[39]

In 2009, in the second overtime game in series history, BYU defeated Utah 26–23. BYU held a 20–6 lead entering the fourth quarter. Utah scored 14 fourth-quarter points to force overtime, but their comeback fell short. Utah managed a field goal in overtime to take a 23–20 lead, but on BYU's possession, Max Hall connected to tight end Andrew George for a 25-yard touchdown reception and the victory.[40] The game was dubbed "George is still running" by BYU fans.[41]

During the postgame press conference, Hall was asked if he felt he had redeemed himself for his performance in the previous year's game in which he had five interceptions and one fumble. Hall responded, "A little bit, yeah. I don't like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program. I hate their fans. I hate everything. So, it feels good to send those guys home. They didn't deserve it. It was our time and it was our time to win. We deserved it. We played as hard as we could tonight, and it felt really good to send them home and to get them out of here, so it is a game I'll always remember." When asked for a clarification and whether he really hated Utah, Hall said, "I think the whole university and their fans and organization is classless. They threw beer on my family and stuff last year, and did a whole bunch of nasty things. I don't respect them, and they deserve to lose."

The next day, Hall issued an apology for his "remarks". He alleged that his "family was spit on, had beer dumped on them and were physically assaulted on several occasions" during the previous year's game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.[42] Hall had made similar accusations following a loss to the University of Arizona, during his time at Arizona State.

Burton's block[edit]

For 2010, the game was played at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. It was the last game for the two teams as conference rivals. BYU entered the game with a 6–5 while Utah came in at 9–2. In a low-scoring affair, BYU scored two field goals, one in each of the first two quarters, to lead 6–0 at halftime. In the third quarter, the Cougars got a touchdown on a 21-yard pass play from Jake Heaps to McKay Jacobson, to take a 13–0 lead. The fourth quarter began with Utah scoring a 40-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 13–3, and then after Utah recovered a BYU fumble, Utah capitalized with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Wynn to DeVonte Christopher to make the score 13–10. The Cougars responded with a field goal, to make it 16–10.

Utah responded to a series of turnovers with a Matt Asiata touchdown on a 3-yard run to make it 17–16 with 4:24 remaining. BYU then drove down the field to Utah's 22-yard line, to set up Mitch Payne for a game-winning field goal with 4 seconds remaining. However, Utah cornerback Brandon Burton raced from the outside to block the kick and secure a 17–16 Utah victory.

Shock and Awe[edit]

With Utah having left for the Pac-12 and BYU declaring conference independence, the 2011 BYU home game against Utah was the rivalry's first non-conference game since 1898. BYU suffered a rough start on its opening drive, when on its third play, the ball was snapped over quarterback Jake Heaps' head and recovered for a touchdown by Utah DE Derrick Shelby. The remainder of the 1st quarter held similar luck for BYU, with Running back JJ Di'Luigi being stripped of the ball on 1st and Goal from the Utah 6-yard line. The 2nd quarter proved more competitive with BYU completing a 32-yard TD pass to WR Ross Apo. Utah answered with 30-yard TD pass from QB Jordan Wynn to freshman TE Jake Murphy, just two minutes before the half. Utah led at halftime 14–10.

After a first half that seemed to promise the typical nail-biter game that the last decade of the rivalry had shown, it was anything but. The Utes scored 40 unanswered points in the 2nd half (a total of 47 unanswered). Turnovers continued to plague BYU, who would finish with 7, including JD Falslev's mishandled kickoff return at their own 6-yard line, QB Jake Heaps fumble at their own 6-yard line, and QB Riley Nelson's (substituted in for Heaps in the 4th quarter) fumble after being sacked, returned 57 yards for a TD by freshman LB V.J. Fehoko.

The final result of 54–10 was the largest margin of victory for either team in the Holy War since 1983, and Utah's second-largest margin of victory ever in the Holy War. Utah's 54 points were the second most the Utes had ever scored against BYU.


In 2012, the Holy War ended in dramatic and odd fashion. Utah went into the 4th quarter up 17 points, but the BYU offense brought the game within 3. With less than 30 seconds remaining, BYU quarterback Riley Nelson successfully drove into Utah territory on 4th and long with a 40-yard pass to wide receiver, Cody Hoffman. On what was thought to be the final play of the game, Nelson's deflected pass fell incomplete as time seemingly expired and the Utah fans rushed the field. The pass, however, was shown to hit the ground with one second left, giving BYU an opportunity to kick a field goal from 51 yards (once the fans had been cleared from the field of play). On the attempt, the kick was blocked, the ball recovered by BYU, and the runner subsequently tackled. However, Utah fans again rushed the field, this time before the play was over, thus earning a penalty that gave BYU another chance at a field goal, this one from 36 yards. That attempt was unsuccessful, however, when the kick hit the left upright and went awry, leading Utah fans, who were already on the sidelines, to rush the field for a third and final time. Utah won the game 24–21.[36]

Twenty to Thirteen in 2013[edit]

Utah and BYU played the 2013 game under the request of Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill that it would be the final contest until 2016 – a fact that served as motivation for both teams to avoid having to endure a defeat for three years.

Utah found themselves with a 13–0 halftime lead at LaVell Edwards Stadium. BYU scored on their first drive of the 2nd half, a field goal, with 11:39 remaining in the third quarter and the Cougars tacked on another exactly six minutes later. Utah, though, responded with a 79-yard touchdown drive to extend its lead to 20–6 with 12:44 remaining in regulation.

BYU fought back for their 3rd score of the half, this time on a one-yard run by running back Michael Alisa, with 5:44 left in the game to close the gap to seven points. After the Cougar defense forced the Utes to a three-and-out on Utah's next possession, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill was intercepted on the Cougars' next drive with a little more than 90 seconds remaining – appearing to seal the win for Utah.

The Utes would leave Provo with a 20–13 win.[43]

2015 Las Vegas Bowl: Holy War in Sin City[edit]
I'm lucky enough to be one of the many players on the football team that actually has never lost to these bastards, which leads me to end and say this is Utah's world and BYU's living in it.

— Utah punter Tom Hackett, 2015 [44]

The planned hiatus for 2014–2015 was unexpectedly cut short. On December 6, 2015, it was announced that BYU would play Utah on December 19, 2015 in the Las Vegas Bowl. It was the first time the teams met in the postseason and the first Holy War game to be played at a neutral site.

During the first 8 minutes of the game, Utah forced a Las Vegas Bowl record five turnovers in the first quarter, resulting in a 35–0 lead. Though BYU would score four unanswered touchdowns to narrow the lead to 35–28, Utah was able to secure a crucial first down at the end of the game to run out the clock. After the first five minutes of the game, BYU never possessed the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead in the game. Utah took the bowl game with a 35–28 win, ending Bronco Mendenhall's last game as BYU's head coach with a loss.[45]

2016–present: Whittingham versus Sitake[edit]

Hindsight is 20–20[edit]
Nice leather pants.

— Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham, 2016 [46]

The first BYU offensive play from scrimmage in the 2016 game resulted in an interception, returned by Sunia Tauteoli for a 41-yard Utah pick-six. However, Utah subsequently committed several turnovers, which would lead to two BYU field goals and a touchdown late in the 2nd Quarter. Utah answered with a touchdown of their own and held a slim 14–13 lead as the teams headed into the locker room for halftime. After adding a field goal in the third quarter and one in the fourth quarter, Utah led 20–13 with 2:47 to go. Taysom Hill led BYU on 75-yard drive, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown run with 18 seconds to play. Rather than kick the PAT to make it 20–20, BYU Head Coach Kalani Sitake decided to go for the two-point conversion and the win. Quarterback Taysom Hill ran the ball up the middle on a draw, but the Utes stopped him at the three-yard line. Utah would emerge victorious by a score of 20–19, despite committing six turnovers in the game.

The Tyler Huntley Show[edit]

In the 2017 matchup, Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley racked up a career-high 300 passing yards (27-of-36), and added a career-high 89 yards on the ground and a touchdown. The Utes held a 13-point lead to end the third quarter, but a late fourth quarter touchdown from BYU made it a six-point game, putting the pressure on the Utes' defense. They didn't disappoint, forcing three incomplete passes to regain possession and claim the victory. Utah would win the game, 19–13.[47]

The Comeback[edit]

The game on November 24, 2018 was held in Salt Lake City at Rice-Eccles Stadium. BYU (6–5) was the underdog to the Pac-12 South Champion Utah Utes (8–3). BYU jumped on the Utes, scoring 20 unanswered points. Utah's first score came early in the third quarter from an interception returned for a touchdown. BYU led 27–7 up until 40 seconds remained in the third quarter. After a Utah touchdown, the resulting momentum shift led to two touchdown runs by Armand Shyne, which gave Utah the lead for the first time with just 3:02 left in regulation. Utah, up by 1 point (28–27), then forced BYU to turn the ball over on downs with an impressive 4th & 1 stop. On the first play of the ensuing drive, with 1:43 left in the game, Utah quarterback Jason Shelley ran 33 yards for a touchdown to bring the score to 35–27.[48] This was the largest deficit overcome for either team in the Holy War series.[49]

Moss Brings the Lightning[edit]
We never gonna lose to them. They... they so poo-poo.

— Utah QB Tyler Huntley, 2019 [50]

The 100th meeting between the two schools saw Utah winning their 4th straight game at LaVell Edwards Stadium with the help of senior running back Zack Moss, who rushed for 187 yards and scored a touchdown. Up 9–6 at halftime, Utah scored 21 unanswered points after the break to seize control before the Cougars stopped the bleeding with a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The game went into a 54-minute weather delay with 9:01 remaining, with the game resuming after midnight. This came after Utah scored a pair of touchdowns early in the fourth quarter to build a 30–6 lead. Both Utes touchdowns were a result of BYU turnovers, as Zack Moss scored on a 12-yard run following a Cougar fumble and Julian Blackmon scored on a 39-yard pick-six on the next BYU drive, just 31 seconds later. Utah would win the game, 30–12, and extend their winning streak over BYU to 9 games.[51]

Future games[edit]

Because of the Pac-12 Conference's decision to restrict member schools to conference play only due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 BYU–Utah game was canceled in July.[52] The series will continue through 2021, after which a 2-year hiatus will take place. The series will then resume until at least 2028.[53]

Game results[edit]

BYU victoriesUtah victoriesTie games
No.DateLocationWinning teamLosing team
1 April 6, 1896 Salt Lake City Utah 12 BYA 4
2 November 14, 1896 Salt Lake City Utah 6 BYA 0
3 December 5, 1896 Provo BYA 8 Utah 6
4 December 4, 1897 Salt Lake City BYA 14 Utah 0
5 December 18, 1897 Provo BYA 22 Utah 0
6 November 24, 1898 Salt Lake City Utah 5 BYA 0
7 October 14, 1922 Salt Lake City Utah 49 BYU 0
8 October 27, 1923 Provo Utah 15 BYU 0
9 October 25, 1924 Salt Lake City Utah 35 BYU 6
10 October 31, 1925 Provo Utah 27 BYU 0
11 November 13, 1926 Salt Lake City Utah 40 BYU 7
12 November 12, 1927 Provo Utah 20 BYU 0
13 November 17, 1928 Salt Lake City Tie0Tie0
14 November 2, 1929 Salt Lake City Utah 45 BYU 13
15 October 18, 1930 Salt Lake City Utah 34 BYU 7
16 October 17, 1931 Salt Lake City Utah 43 BYU 0
17 October 15, 1932 Salt Lake City Utah 29 BYU 0
18 October 14, 1933 Salt Lake City Utah 21 BYU 6
19 October 13, 1934 Salt Lake City Utah 43 BYU 0
20 November 2, 1935 Provo Utah 32 BYU 0
21 October 31, 1936 Salt Lake City Utah 18 BYU 0
22 October 2, 1937 Salt Lake City Utah 14 BYU 0
23 October 15, 1938 Salt Lake City Tie7Tie7
24 October 14, 1939 Provo Utah 35 BYU 13
25 October 5, 1940 Salt Lake City Utah 12 BYU 6
26 October 18, 1941 Salt Lake City Tie6Tie6
27 October 10, 1942 Salt Lake City BYU 12 Utah 7
28 October 12, 1946 Provo Utah 35 BYU 6
29 October 11, 1947 Salt Lake City Utah 28 BYU 6
30 October 9, 1948 Provo Utah 30 BYU 0
31 October 8, 1949 Salt Lake City Utah 38 BYU 0
32 October 7, 1950 Provo Tie28Tie28
33 October 6, 1951 Salt Lake City Utah 7 BYU 6
34 October 11, 1952 Salt Lake City Utah 34 BYU 6
35 November 26, 1953 Salt Lake City Utah 33 BYU 32
36 October 9, 1954 Provo Utah 12 BYU 7
37 October 8, 1955 Salt Lake City Utah 41 BYU 9
38 October 5, 1956 Provo Utah 41 BYU 6
39 October 12, 1957 Salt Lake City Utah 27 BYU 0
40 September 27, 1958 Salt Lake City BYU 41 Utah 6
41 October 9, 1959 Salt Lake City Utah 20 BYU 8
42 October 7, 1960 Salt Lake City Utah 17 BYU 0
43 October 14, 1961 Salt Lake City Utah 21 BYU 20
44 October 13, 1962 Salt Lake City Utah 35 BYU 20
45 October 12, 1963 Salt Lake City Utah 15 BYU 6
46 November 7, 1964 Salt Lake City Utah 47 BYU 13
47 November 6, 1965 Provo BYU 25 Utah 20
48 November 12, 1966 Salt Lake City BYU 35 Utah 13
49 October 28, 1967 Provo BYU 17 Utah 13
50 November 2, 1968 Salt Lake City Utah 30 BYU 21
51 November 22, 1969 Provo Utah 16 BYU 6
No.DateLocationWinning teamLosing team
52 November 21, 1970 Salt Lake City Utah 14 BYU 13
53 November 20, 1971 Provo Utah 17 BYU 15
54 November 18, 1972 Salt Lake City BYU 16 Utah 7
55 November 24, 1973 Salt Lake City BYU 46 Utah 22
56 November 23, 1974 Provo BYU 48 Utah 20
57 November 15, 1975 Provo BYU 51 Utah 20
58 November 20, 1976 Salt Lake City BYU 34 Utah 12
59 November 5, 1977 Provo #14 BYU 38 Utah 8
60 November 18, 1978 Salt Lake City Utah 23 BYU 22
61 November 17, 1979 Provo #10 BYU 27 Utah 0
62 November 22, 1980 Salt Lake City #13 BYU 56 Utah 6
63 November 21, 1981 Provo #18 BYU 56 Utah 28
64 November 20, 1982 Salt Lake City BYU 17 Utah 12
65 November 19, 1983 Provo #9 BYU 55 Utah 7
66 November 17, 1984 Salt Lake City #3 BYU 24 Utah 14
67 November 23, 1985 Provo #11 BYU 38 Utah 28
68 November 22, 1986 Salt Lake City BYU 35 Utah 21
69 November 21, 1987 Provo BYU 21 Utah 18
70 November 19, 1988 Salt Lake City Utah 57 BYU 28
71 November 18, 1989 Provo #21 BYU 70 Utah 31
72 November 17, 1990 Salt Lake City #5 BYU 45 Utah 22
73 November 23, 1991 Provo BYU 48 Utah 17
74 November 21, 1992 Salt Lake City BYU 31 Utah 22
75 November 20, 1993 Provo Utah 34 BYU 31
76 November 19, 1994 Salt Lake City #21 Utah 34 #20 BYU 31
77 November 18, 1995 Provo Utah 34 BYU 17
78 November 23, 1996 Salt Lake City #8 BYU 37 Utah 17
79 November 22, 1997 Provo Utah 20 BYU 14
80 November 21, 1998 Salt Lake City BYU 26 Utah 24
81 November 20, 1999 Provo Utah 20 #19 BYU 17
82 November 24, 2000 Salt Lake City BYU 34 Utah 27
83 November 17, 2001 Provo BYU 24 Utah 21
84 November 23, 2002 Salt Lake City Utah 13 BYU 6
85 November 22, 2003 Provo Utah 3 BYU 0
86 November 20, 2004 Salt Lake City #5 Utah 52 BYU 21
87 November 19, 2005 Provo Utah 41 BYU 34OT
88 November 25, 2006 Salt Lake City #21 BYU 33 Utah 31
89 November 24, 2007 Provo BYU 17 Utah 10
90 November 22, 2008 Salt Lake City #8 Utah 48 #16 BYU 24
91 November 28, 2009 Provo #18 BYU 26 #22 Utah 23OT
92 November 27, 2010 Salt Lake City #23 Utah 17 BYU 16
93 September 17, 2011 Provo Utah 54 BYU 10
94 September 15, 2012 Salt Lake City Utah 24 #25 BYU 21
95 September 21, 2013 Provo Utah 20 BYU 13
96 December 19, 2015 Las Vegas, Nevada #20 Utah 35 BYU 28
97 September 10, 2016 Salt Lake City Utah 20 BYU 19
98 September 9, 2017 Provo Utah 19 BYU 13
99 November 24, 2018 Salt Lake City #18 Utah 35 BYU 27
100 August 29, 2019 Provo #14 Utah 30 BYU 12
101 September 11, 2021 Provo
Series: Utah leads 62–34–4

Series record sources: College Football Data Warehouse.[8][19]

*BYU was known as Brigham Young Academy (BYA) until 1903

See also[edit]


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