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#39 - Utah vs BYU

Utah vs BYU
November 22, 2008
Rice-Eccles Stadium
Salt Lake City, UT

Why?: This year's Holy War will likely be the key to the MWC, and the last year's game was probably the most exciting game none of us saw. Utah led most of the game but let it slip away with something like 40 seconds left, and also gave up a late game rally the year before to lose 31-33. Plus, I have a total fascination with rivalries like these, the ones that aren't as hyped as the Iron Bowl or Michigan/tOSU, but are no less intense for the fans involved. I'd love to attend one of these some day.

Who do I think will win?: This one is hard to call before the season starts. The Utes started off soft last season before going on a seven game tear that had them at 8-3 going into the Holy War, and rebounded to outshoot Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl 35-32 (though there was a bit of controversy involved) and end the season with a win. BYU, meanwhile, wound up at 11-2 with back to back early season losses at UCLA (whom the Utes pounded 44-6 a week later) and Tulsa (a heartbreaking shootout at 47-55), and a revenge win over the Bruins in the Las Vegas Bowl. Both teams return the core of their offenses (Utah has 14 returning starters with 8 on offense, and BYU has 12, with 9 on offense), and Utah should actually be even better than that number suggests with injured players returning and a center who has starting experience at guard. The big difference here will the defense, and I have to go with the Utes. They bring back 6 starters, while everyone else has game experience, and BYU only returns 3 starters and is counting on a lot of kids who have moved over from offense. The game is in Salt Lake City, and the Utes should have a stellar season, so I'm going with them.

Who do I hope will win?: Block U is a favorite of mine, but I'm also a big fan of former Cougar QB Jim McMahon, so it's kind of a toss up. I'll go with the Utes, though, since I'm getting tired of seeing BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl and I firmly believe that whoever wins this one will be the MWC champ.