Why BYU and Utah aren’t playing rivalry weekend — and why the Big 12 could change that in the future

The Utes and Cougars will be play on Nov. 9, their earliest in-conference meeting since 1977.

Las Vegas • The return of the BYU-Utah rivalry game this year comes a bit earlier than normal. In fact, it’s the earliest in-conference meeting between the two schools since 1977.

Typically, when the two schools are in the same conference, the game falls on the final week of the regular season. But the Big 12 scheduled the game for Nov. 9, three weeks before college football’s traditional rivalry week.

The last time BYU and Utah met this early — when they were both in the WAC — was on Nov. 5, 1977.

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark, however, said the conference could revisit the scheduling of the game in the future. It is possible the game could return to its traditional late-November slot.

“It is certainly something we should think about,” Yormark told The Salt Lake Tribune. “... We don’t necessarily have a rivalry week. We spread them around. I’ve discussed that a little bit with our head of football. So I don’t have a great answer on that other than we are focused on rivalries.”

Going into this season, Yormark elected to only put one in-state game on Nov. 30 during rivalry week. Arizona and Arizona State will play in Tucson that day.

Other Big 12 rivalry games will be played much earlier. Kansas will visit Kansas State in October. No Texas teams will meet on Nov. 30.

The Big 12 lost its biggest rivalry when Texas and Oklahoma departed to the SEC this season.

Yormark said the reasoning for spreading out the games, at least for now, is to have the matchups standalone and not get lost on rivalry week.

“We don’t necessarily have a rivalry week,” Yormark said. “We’ve got great rivalries in our conference. We want to maintain those rivalries. And I think we did. But from a scheduling standpoint, it is not like we put everything on one weekend.”