In years past, the Utah-BYU rivalry always took place in September. This year, it did not–but USA Today says never fear, Ute and Cougar fans. Your teams will play soon enough in the Miami Beach Bowl in December.
So said USA Today on Wed. Sept. 24 in its semi-regular bowl predictions, which it believes will pit BYU–the bowl’s automatic qualifier–against a team from the American Athletic Conference.
But what the Miami Beach Bowl believes, is that Utah will gobble up the AAC’s spot in the bowl based on what it predicts will be a logjam of bowl-eligible teams in which the Utes play, the Pac-12 Conference.
In other words, Ute fans, USA Today–the mother of all daily national newspapers–doesn’t think your Pac-12 Utes are good enough to play in a big-time bowl game and will not remain undefeated in the big, bad conference for long.
Ute fans have almost worn their successful rivalry in recent years with BYU as a badge of pride–so to even mention that they have to play BYU again is probably a slap in their faces painted with large red U’s.
Meanwhile, the Cougar fans who can’t believe that the Utes aren’t playing the Cougars this season–believe the Utes are ducking out of the rivalry rather sheepishly. And on message boards–which you can read at the bottom of the above linked articles–they are indeed pointing to the possibility of the teams playing again as one in which they can exact revenge on the team they’ve lost to on a semi-regular, almost annual, basis.
That the Cougars–currently sitting 4-0 and No. 20 nationally with a schedule full of weak teams to come–are listed as still playing at this bowl is almost laughable. BYU appears to have a shot to snag one of six bowls affiliated with the College Football Playoff, the new series replacing the BCS for which the Cougars would be eligible–if they’re selected as an at-large team and if they become bowl-eligible.
That the Utes are playing in a bowl game is a victory in and of itself after two years of nothing–but you have to doubt their fans are celebrating about having another shot at BYU. FOX Sports guru Stewart Mandel, however, said Wednesday that USA Today’s prediction is basically bogus.
Mandel added that putting the rivalry on hold was a mistake–but that a big-time bowl, not the Miami Beach Bowl, is where these two rivals would likely butt red and white helmets after they do the Haka dance and talk smack about each other’s moms in pre-game festivities. You know, the usual rivalry stuff.
“The Holy War should never be on hiatus, and it figures that the year it dropped off the schedule it appears that both teams are back on the rise. I would consider the chances slim. BYU is locked in to the Miami Beach Bowl against a team from the American. Both the Utes and Cougars would have to qualify for a New Year’s Six Bowl, and the committee would have to intentionally pit them against one another (most likely in the Fiesta), which, while incredibly appealing to fans of those two schools, wouldn’t be very compelling nationally.”