This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Asked what he thought of a Utah-Colorado rivalry, Utah senior Greg Bird laughed when he found out the last time the teams played was 1962.
"I wasn't even born," he said. "I don't know if you can call it a rivalry."
Bird isn't alone in his opinion of Friday's Utah-Colorado game. Billed as the "Rumble in the Rockies," the Pac-12 hopes the two foes will build a rivalry that will become as well known as the Apple Cup battle between Washington and Washington State, the USC-Notre Dame contest and the "Civil War" game between Oregon and Oregon State.
However, so far other than a catchy name that was decided in a fans' contest, the Utah-Colorado game doesn't have much in the way of a true rivalry.
The Utes are still getting accustomed to the feeling of not playing BYU this week while Colorado feels like a team on the outside looking in, coach Jon Embree said.
"It's rivalry week, but it's not a rivalry yet," he said. "We haven't played in 50 some years. A rivalry has to happen over time and rivalries are with certain things at stake. They still get to play BYU and if this does turn into a rivalry, we still won't replace BYU. It is kind of weird going through this season and not having what you call a rivalry game out there on our own right now. Hopefully this series over time becomes that."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham agreed with Embree, saying a rivalry can't be manufactured and it either takes a long series of contests or something specific to happen which elevates annual battles to higher status for programs.
If Colorado upsets the Utes, which would end Utah's hopes of reaching the Pac-12 championship regardless of what happens with Arizona State or UCLA, that result might add a little spice to the contest.
But even then the "Rumble in Rockies" might not be significant to the Utes.
Utah's 57 games against Colorado is the most against a Pac-12 school and the fifth longest in school history, but those meetings were so long ago that even the coaches much less the players feel little attachment.
If anything, Utah's recent history of playing teams like UCLA and Oregon State and the common recruiting grounds they share have elevated those contests to a more meaningful level for the Utes.
The manufactured buildup for the game is more amusing to the players than anything, although senior lineman Tony Bergstrom is willing to play along.
"Tell me they hate babies there, lie to me, I'll think of something to hate them," he said. "Rumble in the Rockies sounds like all those [WWE] events or something like 'Bash on the Beach.' "
Rather than worrying about creating a rivalry, the Utes are more concerned with winning in the hopes that Cal beats Arizona State Friday and USC beats UCLA.
Such results would put the Utes in the Pac-12 championship game against Stanford or Oregon.
"Everything is falling into place for us," defensive lineman Tevita Finau said. "We've been taking one game at a time and the situation with ASU, hopefully it plays out. We have to do our part."
Colorado at Utah
P Friday, 1:30 p.m.
TV • ROOT
Colorado at Utah
P At Rice-Eccles Stadium
Kickoff • Friday, 1:30 p.m.
TV • ROOT
Radio • 700 AM
Records • Utah 7-4, 4-4; Colorado 2-10, 1-7
Series history • Colorado leads, 30-24-3
Last meeting • Utah, 37-21 (Sept. 22, 1962)
About the Utes • The Utes are 14-13-2 against the Buffs in Salt Lake City. … John White needs 131 yards to set a school record for most rushing yards in a season. … Utah's 18 seniors will be honored in a pregame ceremony. … Backup linebacker Jacoby Hale is questionable with a concussion. … The last time the Utes played a team other than BYU in the regular season finale was 2001, when they played Air Force in a makeup of a game postponed due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
About the Buffs • Only conference win was a 48-29 victory over Arizona. … Is ranked last in the league in scoring offense (20) and scoring defense (38.42). … Rodney Stewart leads the team, averaging 164.1 all-purpose yards, which ranks second in the league. … Coached by Jon Embree, a graduate of Colorado who is in his first year.