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Utah fans, cheer up. Playing your rival in Las Vegas is way better than the Foster Farms Bowl

You get to potentially embarrass your rival on a national stage. What more could you ask for?

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It isn't a New Year Six Bowl, but this year, the Las Vegas Bowl is clearly one of the toughest tickets of bowl season. The highly anticipated Holy War showdown between BYU and Utah sold out in less than 24 hours, and prices on the secondary market are shooting up to $185 a ticket, more than many other more prestigious bowls.

A chance for two hated rivals to battle in front of a sold out, passionate crowd, with national attention basically just focused on them, should be enough to make everybody excited. But you know who isn't happy about this? A lot of Utah fans. And they're wrong.

Utah was technically passed over in the Pac-12 bowl hierarchy by teams with worse records.

The Utes finished 9-3 on the season, with a 6-3 record in Pac-12 play. Based purely on the standings, Utah should have been in line for the Holiday Bowl or the Sun Bowl. But concerns after the injury to star running back DeVontae Booker plus the tantalizing possibility of a Holy War bowl game bumped the Utes down. Some Utah fans feel the Las Vegas Bowl selection is a sign of disrespect.

Other Utah fans are bummed about the lack of variety, since Utah went to this bowl last season, too. Plus, with a nine-game conference schedule, Utah's opportunities for scheduling other big name programs are limited. To miss out on a bowl opportunity against a big name to play a team that is already on the 2016 schedule isn't worth it to some Utah fans.

It's not just Utah fans that seem underwhelmed with the prospect of playing the Cougars. In his statement after the bowl was announced, Utah athletic director Chris Hill didn't mention BYU or the rivalry at all, simply stating:

This has been our best season as members of the Pac-12 and we are pleased at the opportunity to play one more game. Through our past experience, we know that the people involved with the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl will provide a wonderful experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans.

Dr. Hill hasn't been shy about not wanting to play BYU every year, stating earlier in an interview that "Utah fans aren't disappointed in not playing BYU every year."

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But a Holy War Las Vegas Bowl is awesome for everybody, including Utah.

Outside of the Playoff and New Years Bowls, there really isn't a big difference between the rest of the games. It isn't about the prestige or the pageantry of the Foster Farms Bowl or whatever, it's which games provides the most interesting matchups.

Of the possibilities, there was no other matchup even as close as compelling as a showdown against BYU. Everybody, including Utah fans, would quickly forget whatever happened in El Paso against a flawed Miami team. A Holiday Bowl battle against a Wisconsin team that has beaten exactly nobody might be a little better, but it would elicit exactly zero buzz and be quickly drowned out in the national conversation. Would Utah fans seriously prefer facing a Nebraska team with a losing record? C'mon, even BYU beat Nebraska!

Now the Utes get a chance to play in one of the highest profile bowl games of the entire season.

The amount of buzz, attention and glory that will come from winning this game would far surpass any reward they'd get from beating another average power conference opponent in a different bowl. While other bowls slog on in half-empty stadiums, Utah will be playing in a powered up, sold out stadium, with the eyes of the country watching.

And why is everybody so excited? Because they're playing their hated rivals! This is the perfect situation for Utah fans. You already had your best season in the Pac-12. You already traded that BYU game for a shot at a bigger home date with Michigan, and you won. And now you get the best of both worlds: the shot at ruining Bronco Mendenhall's bid for a 100th win at BYU, a chance at killing BYU's hopes of finishing the season ranked in the Top 25, and generally smacking the Cougars down into another offseason of existential crisis. How awesome is that?

BYU may never be more jazzed up to beat Utah, given the stakes and the location. Now you have a chance to shut up every local radio host in the state. You get a chance to ferociously dunk on that team down south in the most public and dramatic of ways, one last time. And you get to do it in Las Vegas.

That's not disrespect. That's not a cause for complaining. That's awesome, and you all should enjoy it.


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