Thoughts from Falslev, Poppinga on BYU-Utah State rivalry
I get asked about it all the time, especially by Utah State fans. Does BYU consider the Aggies a rival in football?
My reply: After what happened in 2010 (USU's 31-16 win), absolutely.
Here's more on how much respect BYU coaches and players are giving the Aggies this week, as Friday's showdown approaches.
I talked to BYU linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga last night to get his perspective on the rivalry. Why Poppinga? He began his college football career at Utah State before transferring to BYU. His older brother played football for Utah State and his sister played volleyball for the Aggies.<
"When I was there, when you played BYU and Utah, it was a big deal," Poppinga said. "So man, it was always like, 'we are the underdogs, we are going against BYU or Utah, going for the upset.'
Now that they are 6-point favorites, or something like that, and we are the actual underdogs on paper, the roles have been reversed a little bit, so that's interesting.
But it is a tough place to play no matter what -- even back in the day when BYU was dominant, they would go up there and they would struggle. So it is a hard place to play, the crowd, now that they have been playing really well, the crowd is into it just like they are in basketball."
Having grown up in the Cache Valley, BYU kick returner and inside receiver JD Falslev is also familiar with the hate-everything-about-BYU culture that permeates Utah State. You can read more about Falslev's USU roots in this piece in today's Tribune.
Falslev said Monday that with BYU and Utah not playing the next two years, the BYU-Utah State rivalry will grow even more heated.
"I think it is going to be our biggest rivalry, to be honest. We would love to play Utah, honestly, and I know the guys are feeling bad about not being able to play them. But at the same time, we love to play Utah State every single year," he said.
Falslev was asked why so much hostility, hate and anger emanates from Logan.
"It is a rivalry game, and I think the rivalry especially in the last couple of years has really revamped itself, and Utah State has had a great tradition, and they are a great team," he said. "We respect them. We know that they are going to come play hard, be a physical team, and really try to take it right down to the wire.
I mean, you look at the last three or four years with them, it has been right down to the wire, just like the Utah game. So I don't know if it is hate, but it is just a rivalry game, and that's what happens in rivalry games."
Which is the more hostile environment, Utah or Utah State?
"They are both hostile environments," Falslev said. "It is going to be loud. It is going to be crazy, and the fans are going to be all over us, and that's what we love. We love to compete in environments like that. We love to go in and play our very best when we play tough opponents, and so it is going to be a hostile environment, but at the same time it will have a lot of emotion and we got to keep that in check and execute and we will be just fine."