A rivalry between two schools separated by only 50 miles in Utah will be renewed at the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on December 19 at Sam Boyd Stadium. The so-called Holy War between Utah and Brigham Young University is so intense that the schools cannot even agree on when the rivalry started.
Utah partisans say that the first game was played in 1896 against Brigham Young Academy, so they maintain the Utes lead the historical series 57–34–4. BYU’s athletic website shows the series starting in 1922 with the record 54–31–4.
There will be no shortage of other story lines when the teams kick off at 12:30 p.m. on ABC. The teams are in the second year of a two-season break in the action, but will resume regular meetings on September 10.
Both teams are 9-3, but the Pac 12’s Utes are 20th in two national polls, thanks to prominent victories over Oregon and Michigan. The Utes, who beat Colorado State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl last year, are making their fifth appearance in the game.
BYU, whose coach, Bronco Mendenhall, is leaving after the game to coach Virginia, is making its sixth trip to the bowl. A Cougar win would be Mendenhall’s 100th and would pull Mendenhall even with legendary coach LaVell Edwards’ record of seven bowl wins.
The bowl game was created to inject life into Las Vegas during the economic lull between the National Finals Rodeo and New Year’s Eve. BYU made history when it defeated Oregon in 2006 and hosted 44,615 fans, the largest-ever sporting event crowd in Vegas’ history.
Notable Las Vegas Bowl MVPs with NFL careers include Steven Jackson (Oregon State, 2003), Marshawn Lynch (Cal, 2005), Austin Collie (BYU, 2007), Doug Martin (Boise State, 2011) and Bishop Sankey (Washington, 2012). This year’s game hosts NFL hopefuls Utah RB Devontae Booker, who has posted more than 3,400 yards from scrimmage his last two seasons and BYU QB Taysom Hill, who is out because of a season-ending foot injury, but is a projected top QB pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
Bowl Week kicks off at 5 p.m. December 16 with the Outback Steakhouse Welcome Reception at the Fremont Street Experience. Teams will give back to Opportunity Village and the Goody Two Shoes Foundation on December 17. The Fremont Street Experience Pep Rally takes place at 6 p.m. December 18, leading up to Saturday morning’s Tailgate Party with G1GABLAST from Cox at 9 a.m. December 19.
Tickets for the game are on sale from $25-$110.