ESPN: Utes expect to compete for MWC title, BCS berth

Graham Watson has a blog entry up discussing the possibility of a huge Holy War this November. In it, she talks about how both schools will be competing for not only the Mountain West, but a possible BCS berth as well.

Few football rivalries around the country combine the fierceness of the gridiron with the passion of religion like BYU and Utah, and this year their rivalry could have an impact of national proportions. No Mountain West team has accomplished an undefeated, BCS bowl season since Utah in 2004, but the Cougars and Utes have the rosters and the schedules to be the conference's hope in the BCS standings.

During the early part of the season, Utah has a chance to make a name for itself with games against Michigan and Oregon State, while BYU will face Pac-10 foes Washington and UCLA. Those are important stepping-stones toward gaining momentum and prestige heading into a Mountain West Conference that BYU has swept each of the last two seasons, including dramatic wins over Utah during the final games of the season.

But as great as BYU has been over the last two seasons -- 11 wins in 2006 and 2007 -- the Cougars have never generated as much buzz as they have this preseason. As luck would have it and in true rivalry fashion, Utah, which won eight of its last nine to finish 9-4 last season, returns almost all of its starters and is attempting to wrestle the spotlight away from its neighbors to the South.

If these schools are as good as most predict, the game on Nov. 22 could be one that has fans and non-fans alike glued to their televisions, giving the Mountain West a much-needed boost in prestige both by BCS schools and within the non-BCS.

"In a perfect situation, that's the ideal scenario, to have that game come down to the championship every year," Whittingham said. "That's what college football's all about. When you have the opportunity to decide a conference championship against your No. 1 rival, I don't think it gets any better than that."

It's a really good writeup and as much as I would love to see BYU fail, I am intrigued by the possibility of the Holy War deciding a conference championship and BCS berth. That would go along way toward bolstering this rivalry, one I believe is toward the top in the nation (and I'm not the only one, apparently). Of course, this could be all for naught if the Utes and Cougars don't get it done against their BCS opponents.

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