What are your memories of key moments in Utah football’s modern era?

While we are waiting for football to return, whenever that happens, I thought it might be fun to reminisce about some of the key moments that occurred during the modern era. By “key moments“ I mean games or events that definitely pushed the program upward towards its current level of prominence and success.

I’ll start with the Freedom Bowl in 1994. Many here are not old enough to appreciate that game, but we ended up ranked 10th in the country, our highest ranking in many years. I remember feeling so happy after that game. I really was on cloud nine.

I remember driving down to Anaheim from LA with my wife and then two sons. It was very exciting, and we beat a good Arizona team on a last minute play. Afterwards, we went to the team hotel. It was decorated with Utah gear, the hotel staff were in Utah shirts, and the atmosphere was the most festive I had ever seen around any Utah athletic event. I remember thinking I could hardly believe my eyes. My good wife, knowing how much it meant to me, somehow got hold of a football signed by all the members of that Utah team and gave it to me for Christmas. I still have it.

What do you remember about that game? What is your first memory of a significant step upwards for Utah football?

When we beat USC in the Vegas Bowl in 2001. I don’t care how “bad” USC was supposed to be at that time. They were still USC and coached by Pete Carroll. I think that was a big step.

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Agreed.

Lest we forget, the hiring of Ron McBride. That was the true beginning of the turnaround.

Now, in a way Wayne Howard was the true beginning, because his hire showed that the university was once again serious about football. Earlier in the 70s it didn’t look like that at all.

Wayne left because he couldn’t handle the rivalry and how ridiculous people were about it— Including the lack of fan support in his own stadium. Also, the recruiting budget during his time was so small that the coaches had to drive to distant locations to recruit. There was no money for airplane fares.

Fassell was a mistake because he just wasn’t ready to be a head coach. But Ronnie Mac signaled the new era. He will always have a special place in the hearts of Utah fans.

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34-31 in Provo. Gave our University renewed confidence and since then we have become the dominant team in this state after several decades of that other team being on top.

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The Sugar Bowl after-party in the team hotel in New Orleans. What a night!

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Minor quibble. That “several decades” was two decades. Still way too many. But up to the 70’s we dominated them. The 70’s and 80’s belonged to them, the 90’s and 00’s were a split and we’ve totally dominated them since.

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Making it to the first P12 Championship Game. I think that was a huge leap forward in terms of us being one of the big boys. Doesn’t matter if we won or not.

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I have great memories from this game. I went to the game with my family and the guy I was dating went to the game with his friends. I ditched my family during the game to watch the rest with him, we just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary earlier this month.

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The 13 - 10 comeback win over TCU in 2008 was a critical moment. No win, no Sugar Bowl. With no Sugar Bowl win, would the PAC-10 have come calling?

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…and their QB was Carson Palmer.

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The answer to that question is no.

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The 2005 Utah/Byu game in Provo was an interesting moment in Ute Football development. We had just complete the 2 great years under Urban, and went into the first year of the Whittingham era following a lot of losses of personnel in key positions.

When Brian Johnson went out for the remainder of the year on an injury late in the game against NM, the week before the rivalry game in Provo, and it became apparent that we would have to start an almost completely untried Ratliff the following week at QB, I was certain that we would lose the rivalry game.

I had tickets to the game, in the Utah section, and attended with a brother-in-law, who is a BYU Alum.

The surprise upset that we watched that day, was a case study example of how Whittingham would go on to coach and motivate his teams, particularly when they were underdogs, and a glimpse of things to come in the rivalry. It was also very satisfying to watch my brother-in-law squirm as perhaps the only fan in BYU attire in the Ute section. Going into the game, he thought (as did I and most Ute fans) that the game would be a cake walk for BYU, so he had decided to wear BYU Blue while sitting with me in the Ute section.

One of my fondest Ute Football memories, and a game I’ve re watched dozens of times. In fact, I’ll probably do so now :slight_smile:

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I remember well being prepared for the worst and then watching the unknown Ratliff look like a seasoned veteran as he aggressively used Utah’s receivers, who, as always, were faster than BYU’s DBs, to pick them apart. Such fun. You’re right, it was a nice harbinger of what the coming Whitt era would bring. Predictions that after Meyer left, Utah would slip, started to crumble.

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BYU vs Utah 2010.

It was an ugly, ugly game. I was wearing these ridiculously tight pants, and I really had to use the restroom. I recall there being snow and ice on the ground. I left my seat and went out to the concourse, slipped, and ripped said pants from the crotch all the way down to the knee, in front of god and everyone. So I had a problem on my hands. My car was parked up in the aves. I decided to call my girlfriend, who met me on foothill to give me the keys to my apartment, and then I proceeded to walk to the aves, drive my car back to foothill, and put on the only other pants I had at the time. The pants in question were purple, and yes, they were also of the skinny variety. SO, I made it back to the stadium for the 4th quarter in my purple pants to see Brandon Burton block Mitch Payne’s FG. I do think that was a key moment because it salvaged an otherwise incredibly disappointing season. I had sat through drubbings from TCU and Notre Dame, and would soon witness at least part of a shellacking from Donkey State. I had those purple pants for a few years. Never wore them with Ute Crimson again. RIP.

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I’ll never forget the Sugar Bowl stomp- down of Alabama. 5 minutes before the game, announcer Barry Switzer said ~ "No slight to Utah, but not a starting player in the Utah squad would make Alabama’s team. " Words to that effect. Seeing the Alabama player say “I will kill you” during the coin toss and other intimidation tactics. But the Utes played with sportsmanship, verve and composure. Seeing us running hook’n ladder plays, the stunned faces of the Alabama cheerleaders/fans was pure schadenfreude.

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Before the game a Bama fan said to me “Somebody has to lose to the SEC”. There were a lot of comments like that. After the game this guy tried to trash talk us and said something to the effect of how they “didn’t want to be there” etc etc. That must’ve been why he showed up to the game! There were a lot of classy Bama fans who waited outside of the Superdome to shake our hands too, which was cool.

I’ll never forget that first sack by Sylvester. I knew we were going to woop their asses after that. Still one of my top 5 memories of all time.

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The game itself was inconsequential, but the moment was unbelievable. The 2004 BYU/Utah game - the cap of an undefeated season, we were all but assured of going to the Fiesta Bowl. People were throwing around tostitos chips and tortillas. It was late at night, very cold and a light snow was falling throughout the game in just a surreal way. Not only did we drub BYU, but it was also the end of the Crowton era - so the height of Utah football and the basement for BYU.

I didn’t rush the field (that’s against my religion) but it was fun to stand up in the stands with my dad and celebrate and watch the wave of fans celebrate the true arrival of Utah football. A couple of days later we were following Urban around in a helicopter to determine who was in town to see him for a new job we were all in denial he would take - but that night… that moment in Utah football everything was perfect.

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I’m not as ancient as LA, but I do remember the 1994 Freedom Bowl. After having gone to just home games in the '93 and '94 seasons as a Freshman/Sophomore at the U, the Freedom Bowl was the first game I traveled to. Road-tripped it down from Vegas where I was visiting my parents and drove back the same night. Great experience.

But the 2004 BYU game was another level. The whole run-up was amazing (I put Operation Sombrero on a resume in 2005 and actually got the job), and the game itself was the cherry on top.

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November 17, 1990, my first Holy War in-person
I was standing in the sparsely populated southeast portion of Rice Stadium with a number of Utah fans.
BYU was #5 in the country and we all knew the most probable outcome for the game.
There were constant exclamations of ■■■■ the Y!
Solidified my love for this team.

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