In one of the biggest rivalry games of college football’s first week, it was a fairly one-sided affair Thursday night. No. 14 Utah showed why they are one of the favorites to win the Pac-12, beating Brigham Young 30-12 in Provo.
The Utes dominated the game in two ways: running and turnovers. Senior running back Zack Moss picked up 187 yards on the ground on 29 carries and added a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. In total, Utah outran BYU 262-92. Additionally, Utah’s defense forced three turnovers during the game and capitalized on all of them.
At first, the game looked to be a defensive showdown, with the only points in the first quarter coming from a field goal off the leg of Utah’s Andrew Strauch. BYU’s Jake Oldroyd responded with a field goal of his own early in the second quarter to tie the game. To that point, there were no big momentum swings.
That was until the 10:17 mark of the second, where Francis Bernard intercepted Cougars QB Zach Wilson and took it 58 yards to the house, putting the Utes up by six. Oldroyd hit another field goal for BYU, as Utah went into the half leading 9-6.
The Utah offense was only able to muster 125 yards in the half, scoring six points on two drives despite excellent starting field position on both.
But things turned around for the Utes in the second half on both sides of the ball. On the opening drive of the third quarter, Jaylen Dixon rushed for a two-yard TD, capping off an 11-play, 75-yard drive.
Then in the fourth, Moss ran for his second score of the night to put the Utes up by 17. The game was sealed 30 seconds later when Wilson was intercepted by BYU for the second time, as Julian Blackmon ran it back 39 yards for the second pick-6 of the night.
BYU’s Ty’Son Smith had a 10-yard rushing touchdown for their only TD of the night, but that wasn’t nearly enough as the Utes won 30-12.
With two touchdowns scored and three turnovers forced, it is safe to say Utah’s defense was a huge factor. Their defense held BYU to 29 total yards on nine plays on their first three second-half drives. They also forced back-to-back Cougar turnovers, leading to 21 unanswered points. Because of the stout Utah defense, BYU only managed 104 yards on 18 total plays in the second half.
In this rivalry, nicknamed “The Holy War,” winning with defense is nothing new for Utah. The Utes have won nine straight against the Cougars dating back to 2011. In those games, Utah has returned six interceptions and three fumbles for touchdowns.
The two teams will get together once again next year, but there is still plenty of season left to go in the 2019 campaign for both squads. Utah will host Northern Illinois on Sept. 6 in its home opener. Meanwhile, BYU will pack its bags and make its first-ever visit to Knoxville to battle against Tennessee on Sept. 6.