BYU Cougars vs. Utah Utes Prediction and Preview

Kalani Sitake and the Cougars seeking to end eight-game losing streak to the Utes in the "Holy War"

BYU and Utah. The Holy War is one of the best rivalries that college football has to offer. You can try to sell me on how great all the other historic rivalries college football has to offer, but none have the religion aspect that BYU and Utah bring to the table.

 

Whenever you get religion and politics involved in anything, it will likely cause a hostile environment and that is what has happened with BYU and Utah. It’s a great thing.

 

BYU is looking to end a seven-game losing streak to the Utes who are riding high now as they clinched the Pac-12 South Division title a week ago.

 

This game always has drama to it but many around these parts are wondering, what is actually on the line this year? Bragging rights and a whole lot of pride.

 

BYU at Utah

 

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 10 p.m. ET

TV: FS1

Spread: Utah -12

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. The rivalry is back in November

For the first time since the 2010 season when the two schools were members of the Mountain West Conference, BYU vs. Utah is being played at the end of regular season. The question then becomes, what are these two playing for? Utah has the Pac-12 South Division title already locked up and BYU has a bowl game already secured. So all the excitement before the season about this rivalry being back in its usual date has many wondering, what does it mean?

 

2. Kyle Whittingham vs. Kalani Sitake III

Both Whittingham and Sitake hail from the LaVell Edwards coaching tree. The late great BYU head coach had a strong influence on both coaches and the two worked alongside one for a long time as Sitake was on Whittingham’s staff at Utah for 10 seasons before leaving for Oregon State in 2015. This is the third installment with both of these men as head coaches in the rivalry and their friendship still holds true despite the hostile nature between the two programs. The calming influence has had an impact on fan behavior within the rivalry as well. Friendships get tested when one friend keeps winning over the other though and so far Whittingham has the upper hand on Sitake 2-0 through the first two meetings.

 

3. Will this game be close or does Utah blow out the Cougars?

This game has historically lived up to the price of admission with down-to-the-wire finishes that have made this a must-see rivalry game on an annual basis. But this year could be a different story. The Utes are a double-digit favorite over BYU for the first time since 2004 and in that game; Utah crushed the Cougars 52-21 en route to capping off an undefeated regular season and a ticket to the Fiesta Bowl as a BCS Buster. If there’s going to be a year to blow out BYU, this is the year for Utah to do it as the Cougars still have questions at their skill positions on the offensive side of the ball.

 

Final Analysis

 

This game has historically gone down to the wire, but I don’t see that happening this year. BYU’s offense still raises a lot of question marks, especially on the ground. The Cougars have struggled to run the football against Utah and the Utes' front six has been the best they’ve had since joining the Pac-12. Quarterback Jason Shelley and running back Armand Shyne, who have stepped in for Utah and helped carry them to their last two wins, will have success early in the first quarter and then cruise to a two-touchdown victory in a game where the outcome will never be in doubt.

 

Prediction: Utah 30, BYU 16

 

— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is BYU Insider for ESPN 960 Sports and Publisher of Cougar Nation, part of the Rivals network. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.

Event Sport: 
College Football
Event Date: 
Saturday, November 24, 2018 - 22:00
Event Location: 
Rice-Eccles Stadium, 451 1400 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Away Team: 
Home Team: 
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