Utah has won three in a row, and eight of the last eleven contests. Only a handful of BYU players were on the team when the Cougars last beat the Utes in 2009, so seeing how the series is taking a two-year hiatus after this, the Cougars are extremely motivated to end the streak.
"I'm going to do everything that I possibly can to win it for those guys," quarterback Taysom Hill said about the seniors, most of whom are 0-3 against the Utes. "That's a huge motivating factor for me."
"If there's a main motive for me for this game, I'd love to see [the seniors] have success," head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I care more about them than the rivalry, so I'd love to see them be happy."
It not like these games haven't been close. Six of the last eight meetings have literally gone down to the final play. In the other two, both blowout wins by the Utes, BYU committed a combined 13 turnovers, so they know taking care of the ball will be crucial.
"Turnovers have been a big factor in the last couple games," said linebacker Kyle Van Noy. "It's probably going to be huge in this game. I can't see that changing very much."
Another key for the Cougars will be to keep their emotions in check at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Both teams are surrounded by rivalry fever all week long.
"It's so difficult," said Mendenhall. "We try to keep them sequestered in the building as much as possible with meetings and things. But if they stop to get a milkshake, it's the game. If they go to mail a letter, or I guess it's just e-mail now, that's an outdated example. But if they go to their class, they're asked about the game. There's no way around it."
"I think you manage your emotion as you prepare," said offensive coordinator Robert Anae. "You can't sustain a whole week of rage, so you have to prepare with a lot of skill and commitment."
BYU and Utah kick off this Saturday in Provo at 8:15 p.m.