Saturday, Oct 16, 2010, 4:00 PM MDT
TV: the mtn.
War Memorial Stadium
Opponent's Blog: Cowboy Altitude
I suspect Utah's trip to Laramie this Saturday will be their last in our lifetime. It seems unlikely the Utes would ever feel the need to travel there again now that they're entering the Pac-12 Conference next year.
So this weekend marks an end to the long rivalry. It started in 1904 and has continued nearly uninterrupted since the 1920s (give or take a few years here and there). Of Wyoming's opponents, Utah owns the second most wins against the Pokes of any team they've ever played. Only Colorado State bests their 50 wins and that's only by five.
This goes to show you just how much of a rivalry these two teams had. Sure, over the years, especially with the Cowboys' downturn in football, it hasn't been all that contentious. You take out the Joe Glenn bird and the Kyle Whittingham onside kick in 2007, and it's been pretty uneventful between the two teams lately.
But it wasn't always that way. In fact, for a good portion of our programs' histories, this was one of the most heated rivalries in the west. Wyoming didn't like Utah and Utah didn't like Wyoming.
Back when Utah played its games at Ute Stadium (which was renamed Rice Stadium) and BYU was just another team on the schedule, the Cowboys were the major regional rival.
Former Wyoming head coach Bowden Wyatt, who coached in Laramie back in the 1940s and 50s, often said he didn't like Cactus Jack Curtice. In fact, Curtice once greeted Wyatt at the train station one year when his Pokes rolled into town and, channeling his inner Mamie Eisenhower, wouldn't get off the train until Curtice left.
Then there was Phil Dickens, who replaced Wyatt in 1953. He sent a fake telegram to his own team the night before the big game. It read: Beat Utah or you are through in Wyoming.
It worked. The Cowboys won in Salt Lake City 23-13, their first win over the Utes in four years.
Wyoming would go on to dominate the rivalry after that and as Utah quickly faded into football obscurity, the game was never the same. Even after the Utes' resurgence in the 90s, the luster of yesteryear could never be recaptured and, as unfortunate as it may seem today, we often look at the game against the Cowboys as just another team on the schedule.
That's how it's been for all my life and that's how it will always be because Saturday, the rivalry, even though it unofficially ended in the 1960s, will officially come to a close when the final seconds tick off the clock at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
We all expect it will end with a Utah win. It should end with a Utah win because the Utes are vastly better than these Cowboys. They're not the same Pokes who walked into Salt Lake City last year and kept the score close for most of the game. But that night, which happened on Halloween, should also remind us that Wyoming is capable of winning. Especially with this being the last home game they'll possibly ever host against Utah.
For that reason, the Utes can't take this game lightly. Yes, they have looked impressive almost all season long. Yes, they are coming off a fantastic victory on the road against a team that is probably more talented and probably will have a better overall season than Wyoming. But it just doesn't matter.
Not against the Cowboys.
Of course, if there is one great thing about this team, which they obviously lacked last year, it's their ability to not play down to the competition. They've played three really bad teams this season (UNLV, New Mexico and San Jose State) and in each game, they rolled. Now I believe Wyoming is better than all three of those teams, but it isn't by much.
So I expect another solid performance. In fact, an easy Utah win. Which is always hard to predict when they travel up to Laramie. But the gap between these two programs is probably at its largest today than ever before and I suspect that will result in a decisive win for the Utes.
Utah wins if...They play clean and don't overlook Wyoming.
Wyoming wins if...A freak snowstorm hits Laramie, which, knowing the region, is entirely possible. Even then, it'd still take an awful performance by Utah for it to affect the game so much the Cowboys actually win.
What will happen...Utah continues doing what they do best and their offense picks apart the suspect Cowboy defense. That's the biggest difference between this game and the years of Joe Glenn because Wyoming's defense is not good at all. In years past, it was at least somewhat respectable and that always was reason for concern. Not this year, though. Because of that, the Utes wins this game 62-17.
What are your predictions?