BYU Football: Utes are Right, they have Nothing to Gain, Everything to Lose
No matter how it is spinned, BYU Football has a lot to gain and Utah only has a lot to lose in 2019.
For years, the Ute fan base has been claiming that playing BYU gains them nothing and it can only hurt them. Up to this point I have completely disagreed with this idea. Sure, it has favored BYU as far as the opportunity goes, but it has always been relatively close with the effect on recruits, final rankings and overall record..
This year, they are right.
What Utah is Playing for
A Win: The Utes can say they've won nine (because it sounds soooo much better than eight) games in a row against BYU. Perhaps a recruit or two is persuaded to go to Utah over BYU.
A Loss: Utah Football is being told that they are favored to win the Pac 12 and ultimately make the College Football Playoff. Looking at their schedule, their toughest games are against Washington, Washington State, BYU and a potential Pac 12 Championship Game. Maybe a Pac-12 South team will end up being good this year, but considering that Arizona State is the only other Pac-12 South team to make a bowl game last year, it's looking like a weak division this season.
Sure the Utes can lose to BYU and go on to the Pac-12 Championship and win that and then advance to the Rose Bowl, but the CFP is out of the question, barring a rough season from the rest of the league. The Pac 12 just isn't strong enough for a one loss Utah team to compete with one loss SEC, Big 12 or Big 10 teams.
Essentially, the Utes would be eliminated in Week One from the Playoff conversation, may lose quite a few recruits to BYU and they lose their ability to brag about being dominant over the Cougars. The thing is, currently, Utah is dominate and many recruits are going there already, I'm not sure how much one more win would mean to recruits.
Also, a loss makes the Pac 12 look really week in Week One. As it is, they are the weakest conference in the P5, and given the hype around Utah, from a national standpoint, the Utes losing to BYU would look really bad.
Finally, the Utes would probably be out of the Top 25 and wouldn't have a chance to redeem themselves until Week Five when they host Washington State. That is almost a month before a chance at another good win.
What BYU is Playing for
Win: The Cougars are suddenly either ranked or on just the outside of the Top 25. The streak is over and suddenly an attractive option for the recruits who are on the fence between the Utes and Cougars.
With the win and the exposure that they would be receiving from taking down a "CFP" team, another few wins against TN, UW and USC would put the Cougars in the CFP discussion at best and the BCS discussion at worst. Sure, that is a longshot, but it leaves the door open on that possibility. Zach Wilson would get his redemption he wants from last year and all the momentum in the state is going towards the Cougars, and no matter what happens the rest of the year, it will stay with the Cougars.
Lose: The Cougars probably still go on to win six games and play in the Hawaii Bowl. Whether they win or not, it is probably going to happen anyways with a loss to Tennessee, Washington, USC, Boise State, Utah State or any other team. They may lose a recruit or two, but as mentioned before, the difference between eight and nine probably won't mean much to recruits
On the Line for Utah (+ if they win, - if they lose)
+ 9 Game winning streak
+ Possible recruit pick up
- College Football Playoff/BCS at-large
- Top 25 ranking
- Dominance over BYU over
- Next chance for a big win in Week 5
- Bad look for the Pac 12
On the line for BYU
+ Getting ranked
+ Ending the streak
+ Keeping CFP/BCS dream alive
+ Even with a loss, chances for redemption in Week 2, 3, and 4
- Another loss to Utah (9 versus 8)
- Hawaii Bowl (Probably still going to happen regardless)
- Lose a recruit or two on the fence
Bottom line, Utah has a lot to lose a not a whole to gain, whereas the Cougars have everything to gain with very little to lose.