The BYU vs. Utah rivalry game is one of the nation's best college football rivalries. It stretches back to 1896 and is a game often decided by just a few points. In recent years you can almost always count on the game being a back and forth style of football that features many ups and downs and keeps fans on the edge of their seats. One of the best rivalry games that I have seen was in 2006 at Rice Eccles Stadium.
This game is better than all others for a few reasons. The game was decided by just 2 points. The final score, when all was said and done, was 33 to 31 with BYU taking home the win. Another great aspect of this game was that BYU's victory came as time expired off the clock. Time seemed to stand still as John Beck, BYU's quarterback, scrambled back and forth trying to find an open man in the endzone. The final reason this game was so amazing was that I was there and was able to see the amazing last second completion to Jonny Harline in the endzone for the game winning points.
During this game BYU seemed to be in control of the clock and the plays that were being run. They were commanding their offense and the defense was making key stops. It seemed as though BYU was going to run up the score and have a truly sweet victory over their rival. Once the game settled in and players stopped playing on adrenaline Utah started to claw their way back into the game. They played with grit and determination to not be bested by their rival on their home field. As a BYU fan it was agonizing to watch my nemesis, my one true hatred, Utah, climb their way back into the game. I couldn't believe what was happening. I was mad at BYU for allowing Utah to score 24 unanswered points and take control of the game.
I admired BYU for not rolling over and giving up. In the fourth quarter when everything was going Utah's way and the game seemed to be over, John Beck drove BYU down the field for some spectacular scores. Of course, none of these scores were as good as THE score, the final touchdown of the game.
On this drive John Beck had to drive downt the entire field to win the game. The most impressing thing about it was BYU only had 1:19 left on the clock to do it. With just over a minute their chances weren't too great at snagging a victory. None of the players on BYU's squad wanted to experience a 5th straight loss to their rival. Such a thing is simply unacceptable.
With 3 seconds left on the clock John Beck snapped the ball and scrambled to the left. Utah dropped its players back in coverage. It was difficult for Beck to see anyone open. He rolled back to the right hoping something would open up. Time had expired, this was the last play. Utah's defensive lineman had broken through the solid BYU line. Beck knew he had to release the ball. He saw Harline standing alone in the endzone and let the 11 yard touchdown pass rip accross his body. The ball soared through the air seemingly headed for the turf, when out of nowhere Harline slid in on his knees and snatched the pass out of the air. BYU scored and the game was over. I will never forget how silent it got after that score. The Utah fans were very quiet and shocked over such a last second loss.
In this rivalry anything can happen. This is just one example of a crazy ending to a crazy game. It is a game that fans look forward to every year, and for good reason. It is almost always a close game where either team has a shot at victory.