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Utah Football: Pac-12, Welcome To The Insanity Of The Holy War

George Frey

No doubt you've seen the highlights of the 94th edition of the "Holy War", but I'm sure the only thing you can remember and quite frankly want to talk about was the ending.

If you think that an exciting, unexpected and crazy ending is an isolated occurrence in this series, well then let me introduce you to the insanity that is THE Rivalry game of college football.

If you're new to the rivalry, your not alone is it's often referred to as one of the nations best college football rivalries that no one's ever heard of. Well, with the fans making a mad dash onto the field to celebrate not once, not twice, but three times, it's getting the national attention that's it deserved for the last 21 years when it got very competitive.

These games have gotten especially bitter with Utah entering the Pac-12 in 2011. For many BYU fans, who view Utah as their "Little Brother", they feel like Utah's invitation was wrongfully given to the Utes and not the Cougars. These two sides fight over just about everything. Who has better recruits, who has a better University, which TV contract is better, which team has a better coach, who dumped beer on who's head, who's going to be pumping each other's gas, claims that the game was won or lost because players were living right (sometimes referred to as "Magic Happens"), who has earned more national prestige over the years (BYU with 1984 championship vs Utah's two BCS bowl wins 2004 and 2008), whose fans are more classless and constant fighting over whether the game was won by one side or actually lost by the other just to name a few off the top of my head.

You should know that in this state, Utah is rarely credited for with an actual win against BYU. Instead it's about how the Cougars gave the game away and should have won if they had not made so many mistakes.

So you can see that there is plenty of emotion put into this game on both sides. Enough emotion to storm the field three times. Enough emotion for Utah's Kyle Whittingham to claim that his team should be 4-1 for beating BYU three times in that game.

Needless to say, as a fan who has personally witnessed or watched most of the games played over the past 20 years, you could see a crazy ending coming. Yes, even at the end of the the third quarter as the Utes pulled away with a seemingly insurmountable 24-7 lead and physically and mentally abusing the Cougars (especially quarterback Riley Nelson), Mr Ute Football Central himself, yes me, called his shot and thankfully I have Twitter as my proof.

While the Utah crowd celebrated in the stands, seasoned vets like myself kept saying: "Stop celebrating and acting like you've won! This is BYU! Do you not see that that is BYU down there? And oh by the way, they have an entire quarter to make a comeback?"

Both teams have comeback at the end of the games to win. Check a history on the Holy War on wikipedia to see some of the amazing finishes like John Beck's touchdown pass to Jonny Harline on a play that lasted 12 seconds! Each fan base has grown to expect not only a close game, but a fantastic, bizarre, and sometimes miraculous finish.

And of course 2012 was no exception as the Ute's offense and special teams all of a sudden forget how to play in the 4th quarter and gave the Cougars short fields to work with and before you know it, BYU has scored two touchdowns and is now is within three points of sending the game into overtime with just over a minute to go, deep in Utah territory with no times outs.

No problem right? Oh course not, the Utes have this one in the bag...wait, this is BYU we're talking about where "Magic Happens" and it did.

The Utes stop the Cougars on first, second and third down, but on 4th and 12, the Utah defense in explicably lets Cody Hoffman get behind the defense and makes a 47 yard catch down to the Utah 34 yardline. Seriously? Don't these Utah players watch highlights from previous seasons like when the Cougars did the exact same thing in 2007 with Max Hall's 4th and 18 pass to Austin Collie?

Well you know the rest from there and thankfully as a Utah fan, magic didn't happen when Riley Stephensen's field goal attempt "doinked" of the upright and sealed the win for Utah in perhaps the craziest ending ever seen in college football.

The only thing that would have cemented it as THE craziest ending ever is if that field goal had been made and Cougars were to beat the Utes in overtime a steal the victory with the crowd being blamed for the loss.

Thankfully, that didn't happen because I really like Salt Lake City and would have hated to see it have it's first ever riot with cars set on fire, windows shattered and looting on the streets. Okay, that's probably an exaggeration, but it would have been bad I tell ya!

Next year, the game will be played down at Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo, which will be the last game these two teams will play each other until a return game at Rice Eccles Stadium (home of the Utes) in 2016. The two year hiatus is due because of a home and home series that the Utes have signed with Michigan during 2014-15.

Make sure you watch next years game, which I'm sure will be especially crazy (as usual) because who ever wins has bragging rights for nearly three years.

That's a long time! We'll I guess long for Cougar fans who have had to deal with three losses in a row now and as a Ute, hopefully they'll make if four in 2013.