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Holy War revisited: 1988

Over the next week I will be profiling some classic Utah victories over TDS as we lead up to the showdown this Saturday. This week we revisit the 1988 match, where Utah stunned BYU 57-28.

It wasn't supposed to go down like this for BYU. They had entered the game with an 8-2 record and were playing poor Utah. Back then the Utes were nothing in football and entered the game with a 5-5 record. Though their season was long over, Utah dreamt of getting a victory over BYU and spoiling theirs. The Utes hadn't won a game against the Cougars in 9 tries and though it was a monumental task, Utah came to play.

After Scott Mitchell threw a pick at the start of the game, the Utes' offense found composure and slowly began dismantling the Cougars. On their next offensive series after forcing a BYU fumble, Eddie Johnson found his way into the end zone, capping off a drive that started on Utah's own 29. Utah took the lead and never looked back, as the hapless Cougars faltered in one of their most embarrassing losses in the rivalry's history.

Johnson again would find his way into the end zone, on a sweep-play that put Utah up 14-0. And on BYU's next possession, quarterback Sean Covey threw an interception right to Sam Tausinga, who ran it back 17 yards for the score. Just like that the Utes were up 21-0 and the surprised Cougars were left wondering what had hit them.

On BYU's next possession, they managed to punch it in and cut the lead to 14, however Johnson and Utah marched down field and scored again, going up 20-7 (the PAT was blocked) into the half. BYU's fortunes would not get any better, as Covey threw another interception to Sean Knox, which set up a field goal to put the Utes up 23-7.

With a 30-7 lead, BYU quarterback Ty Detmer replaced Covey and passed for a touchdown, cutting the Utes lead to 16. But the Utes answered with two touchdowns, widening the margin to 43-14. From that point on there was no doubt the Utes would prevail as Utah racked up 57 points, the most ever against BYU. Scott Mitchell threw for 384-yards, as the Utes' offense nearly dominated in every facet of the game. Johnson ran for 112 yards and had 91 yards on the receiving end.

Utah ended the season 6-5 and didn't go to a bowl game that year. BYU finished 9-4, beating Colorado in the 1988 Freedom Bowl. That was Utah's last victory over BYU until 1993. The story of that game however will have to wait for another day.