Ok, it doesn't have the same feel as win one for the Gipper, but how sweet would it be if the Utes actually walked into Provo and snapped BYU's long standing home winning streak? Possible, sure. Probable? Not likely, but it seemed that was the case a few years back when the Utes, led by Kerry Rupp, ended BYU's 40+ home game winning streak.
BYU enters this game already wrapping up the conference championship. They're going to the NCAA Tournament and should easily beat Utah. I mean this same BYU team dominated the Utes a few weeks ago in Salt Lake City, it would seem they're more likely to do the same at home. Not so fast though, because maybe Utah comes out and plays inspired ball and somehow pulls off the stunner. Sometimes teams rally behind their fallen coach and if that's the case today, the Utes may have enough in the tank to win the game. Of course I still think that's a long shot, but I like the Utes chances more than I did 24 hours ago.
I expect Luke Nevill to dominate inside. Trent Plaisted has yet to play a decent game against the Utes and that won't change today. Though Nevill can't carry this team alone and someone will need to step up. That's where I hope Ricky Johns enters, since he's coming off a 30 point performance Tuesday night against San Diego State. Now while I don't expect that type of game from him today, if he could even play half to that level, it may be enough for the Utes to make a game of it. If that happens, then a Utah victory will come down to whether the Utes have the ability to stop Keena Young. That's easier said than done, as he lit the Utes up the last time these two teams met.
BYU is the far more experienced team and in college basketball that means a lot. This same BYU team two years ago were floundering below .500 and are now at the top of the conference. Dave Rose seems to be a decent coach who's been able to get the most out of his team. While there have been far better BYU teams in the past, this might be the worst Utah team in a very long time.
The fact Utah has won only one game on the road this season does not bode well for them either. And since Provo has always been a hostile environment, I think it will be very difficult for the Utes to win -- inspired ball or not.
I think this will be an emotionally driven game where the Utes stay close for a bit, then BYU makes a run that inevitably blows the game wide open. It'll hurt getting swept by BYU, something that hasn't happened since the 1994 season, but let's hope it's just a onetime event and something that changes next season.