The Utah Utes (1-1) are hosting the No. 25 BYU Cougars (2-0) for the latest battle in this intense rivalry between the two historic powerhouse programs in the state of Utah.
While the two teams aren’t as evenly matched on paper as in years past, it still promises to be an excellent contest between two teams that cannot stand one another.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the rivalry, where to watch it, who to keep an eye on and a prediction on the final score.
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
When: Saturday, Sept. 15 at 10 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
Listen: ESPN Radio 700 (Utah); KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM (BYU)
Betting Line: BYU -4 (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
“The Holy War” is one of the best rivalries in all of college football, and this year’s showdown should not disappoint.
The Utes absolutely decimated the Cougars in 2011, winning 54-10, but things should be much different this time around.
BYU is favored by Vegas for a reason, as Utah QB Jordan Wynn—who has been the starter since 2009—has elected to end his collegiate football career after suffering another shoulder injury last week.
Jon Hays and Travis Wilson are in line to replace him, but the turmoil at the position will doom the Utes.
Who Might Not Play for Utah (via CollegeInjuryReport.com)
QB Jordan Wynn—OUT—Retirement
SS Brian Blechen—OUT—Suspension
OL Marc Pouvave—OUT—Achilles
Who Might Not Play for BYU (via CollegeInjuryReport.com)
K Justin Sorensen—OUT—Back
LB Zac Stout—QST—Achilles
DB O’Neill Chambers—OUT—Dismissed
BCS/Top 25 Impact
The Cougars need to win to continue their ascent up the Top 25. They are currently ranked No. 25 in the AP poll and are part of the “others receiving votes” category in the USA TODAY rankings.
Utah isn’t anywhere near the top teams after falling to Utah State in overtime on Sept. 7 and would need a victory on Saturday to even start to get consideration to be ranked this season.
Key Player for Utah: John White
The senior RB pounded the rock for 96 yards on 27 carries in the loss to Utah State, but failed to find pay dirt or break any runs longer than 12 yards.
He’s got to be a major factor in this contest against BYU, otherwise his team has no chance.
White was able to accept the challenge last season, as he put up 175 yards and three touchdowns on the Cougars.
Without Wynn, the running game is the focal point of the offense and White must live up to his ability.
Key Player for BYU: Riley Nelson
The senior QB has thrown for 529 yards and three touchdowns in the Cougars two contests to open the season.
If BYU is going to stay undefeated and match their best start since 2008, they’ll need this young man to continue his solid game management.
The Cougars ground game is powerful and varied enough to carry the team offensively, but Nelson needs to make plays when called upon and his performance will be the difference in the game.
Key Matchup: BYU defense against Utah ground game.
Without Wynn, the Cougars don’t have to worry too much about the Utes throwing the ball all over the field.
Fortunately, BYU has one of the top defenses in the nation, giving up just 19 points this season and allowing just 239 yards per game. They will be able to focus in on slowing down White and the rest of the Utah running backs.
If the Utes can’t get leverage up front and move the chains on the ground, the game will quickly get out of hand.
Prediction: BYU 28—Utah 21
The Cougars are the better team and will be able to pull out the W on the back of a strong team defensive effort.
Wynn’s retirement put a wrench in any plans that the Utes had of pulling an upset in this historic rivalry.
Expect BYU to win the Holy War by at least a TD.
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