Viewpoint: Utes more dependent on rivalry than Cougars ever were

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    By Jeremy Twitchell

    Ugly. That”s really the only way to describe the way BYU has owned Utah in the last 30 years of The Holy War.

    Why is it ugly? It”s because since 1973, the Cougars are 22-8 against the Utes. That”s football”s equivalent of a backhand slap.

    If you consider that sublime statistic, the vicious case of Little Man Syndrome that plagues Ute players and fans is understandable. They”re basically Millhouse to BYU”s Bart.

    Utah”s seasons are now made or broken by BYU (although mostly the latter in recent history). Fans and players are unable to enjoy any other successes or accept any other failures.

    There in Ute country, BYU is the season. Without Utah, BYU would be out a good rivalry game. Without BYU, Utah would be out a reason to live.

    See the behavior of the Ute community if you need proof. They begin running their mouths about the game before the season starts, and they come to the game armed with snowballs, beer cans or any other projectile they can find to hurl at anything wearing blue. If they can”t find anything, they roam the venue looking for random fights.

    BYU is forced to Saran Wrap its statues and post a guard on Y Mountain in the week leading up to the game. Now you tell me who”s more dependent on this rivalry.

    Utes have carved their niche as a foil to BYU, and seem quite comfortable with making their bitter rivals the center of their sports universe. It”s a sad existence, but in the end, isn”t that really what being a Ute fan is all about?

    Supposedly, this year is different. BYU has had a bad team, while Utah has enjoyed a breakout season thanks mainly to great coaches.

    Despite the mediocrity of its athletic programs and general classlessness of its fans, somehow Utah manages to land great coaches. Maybe they just want to show some charity work on their resume.

    Just because it dominated Utah and the conference for so long, now that BYU is having a bad streak, the Utes and the rest of the conference have developed a “Kick the bully while he”s down” mentality.

    Sure, this has been a difficult season, but we know that this too shall pass, because BYU football has something Utah doesn”t: tradition.

    The Cougars will be back. It”d be nice if it happened this week, but if it doesn”t, we know it will soon. Utah, on the other hand, must enjoy this successful year, because who knows when the next one will come?

    Caught in such a quandary, the Utes are taking advantage of the situation and developing quite a tradition of their own: players stealing condoms in the middle of the night, getting pulled over for DUI and kicking other players in the face on the field. Sounds like a winning tradition to me.

    Unlikely though it may seem, the Utes find themselves in a situation as unfamiliar as a classroom – being heavily favored against the Cougars. It”s a precarious position, and it remains to be seen if the Utes have the fortitude (or sobriety) to maintain their balance up there.

    Let”s not forget the Curse of LaVell. Since 1957, Utah has not won an outright conference title, mainly thanks to the work the man with the eternally furrowed brow was doing here. In that same timeframe, BYU has won 14 titles outright and a share of seven others.

    If Cougars pull off the upset, the Utes will most likely have to share the top level of the podium yet again. And they”d do it with New Mexico, one of the few teams BYU actually beat this year. How”s that for irony?

    Utah may be favored, but BYU has nothing left to lose, and that makes for a dangerous opponent.

    The image of Ute fans wearing the bride”s maid dress yet again and caught in the Happy Valley, unable to drown their sorrows, should be enough motivation on its own.

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