Barring an abrupt change of heart from the Utes, Saturday night’s game marked the last time BYU will play at Rice-Eccles Stadium until 2016.
The Utes got their 14th straight sellout for the visit from the Cougars, and the crowd of 45,653 was as raucous and rowdy as expected in the first half, causing six false starts from BYU’s offensive linemen in the first half.
BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree predicted it would be a crazy atmosphere earlier in the week.
“Love it. Love it. Love their fans. Love the hostility. It is a great environment to play in. It is a pleasure to be up there,” Ogletree said.
BYU received 2,500 tickets to sell to Cougar boosters, according to Utah sports information.
Next year’s rivalry game is scheduled to be played in Provo on Sept. 21, 2013, then the rivalry will take a two-year hiatus.
Up and running
A big issue for BYU entering Saturday’s rivalry football game was whether the Cougars could run the ball on Utah’s stout defense.
BYU entered the game with a 59-9 record under coach Bronco Mendenhall when it rushes for 100 or more yards in a game. BYU had won 16 of its last 17 games when surpassing the 100-yard rushing mark.
Conversely, the Cougars are difficult to beat when they allow fewer than 100 rushing yards, as most teams are.
BYU entered the game with a 35-4 record when it has limited opponents to fewer than 100 yards the last eight seasons, and had won 21 of 22 such games.
The Cougars are 31-1 under Mendenhall when they reach both goals.
“I want the kind of team that is impossible to run the football on,” Mendenhall said. “[I want] to run the ball anytime we want against anybody ... and that’s the direction we are moving toward.”
In the first half, Utah had 39 rushing yards and BYU had 45.
Special teams not special
BYU’s special teams play was good and bad in the first half; the Cougars gave up a 47-yard punt return to Utah’s Charles Henderson that set up a Utes touchdown. Also, Justin Sorensen missed a 44-yard field goal attempt.
The Cougars’ best special teams play in the first half was JD Falslev’s 34-yard punt return. However, the Cougars got no points out of the long return, after Riley Nelson was sacked on third-and-9 and the Cougars had to punt.
Former BYU running back Fui Vakapuna carried the alumni flag onto the field, right through the performing Utah band, stopping at midfield before a game official told him to hit the sidelines. Daniel Sorensen brought out the special teams flag. ... BYU won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.