Flashback: Long Lasting Bragging Rights

The Brigham Young Cougars have long-term contracts with three teams on its 2012 schedule. The Utah Utes are not one of them, despite the fact that BYU has played Utah more than any other opponent. While neither side has closed the door to future meetings, neither side is committing to future dates. That could make the 2012 meeting similar to the Cougars-Utes face off 70 years ago.

Back in 1942, BYU head coach Floyd Millet inherited the program after Eddie Kimball was called off to World War II. Millet must have felt like a member of the IMF team from Mission: Impossible. In his only season as head coach, Millet took the attitude that his mission, should he choose to accept it, was to beat the University of Utah. In 20 seasons of football, BYU had never beaten the Utes.

On October 10, BYU and Utah squared off in Salt Lake City. BYU set the tone early on defense. The Cougar D forced three turnovers in the first quarter. BYU capitalized on those turnovers by taking a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter courtesy of a four-yard run by Fred Whitney. BYU took that lead into the locker room at halftime. Utah had been held to less than 25 yards of total offense, and the Utes hadn't crossed mid-field.

In the third quarter the Utes caught a break when they blocked a BYU punt that gave them the ball at the BYU 21-yard line. That led to Utah's only points of the game on a touchdown. The extra point was good, so despite being outplayed, Utah had a 7-6 advantage.

It was still a one-point game going into the final quarter. Utah had held BYU scoreless in the first and third quarters. All Utah needed to do was keep BYU from scoring for one more quarter to keep BYU winless in this lopsided rivalry. In the middle of the fourth quarter, the Cougars turned the tables on the Utes with a blocked punt of their own. That block had BYU staring at the end zone just 10-yards away. Facing fourth and goal, Herman Longhurst would not be denied. Longhurst avoided three would-be tacklers to score and gave BYU a 12-7 lead that the Cougars would hold onto when the final gun sounded.

Mission accomplished. Mayhem ensued. The goalposts came down. For the first time in this rivalry, BYU had the upper hand. As it would turn out, World War II put the rivalry on hold until 1946. For four years, BYU held the bragging rights in football.

With future games with Utah uncertain, the 2012 BYU-Utah game may end up having similar ramifications for fan bragging rights.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com