Each year, when the Utah game pops up on the schedule, the Colorado football team is asked the same thing.

Is Utah a rival? Or, who is CU's biggest rival?

Every year, players have to think for a moment about the answer, which really says it all. If players have to think about it, no, Utah is not a big rival. But, there's no question that the match up with the Utes has been entertaining, and it's starting to matter a bit more.

"We've gone back and forth with them for a long time now," CU running back Phillip Lindsay said. "It's been close games. They're a tough team. They're well-coached and a disciplined team and we know every year that we're going to get their best. We're going to give them our best, too."

Ever since leaving the Big 12 after the 2010 season, CU hasn't really had a bitter rival. For years, it was Nebraska, as the Buffs and Cornhuskers developed a hatred for each other that still exists - seven years after their last meeting.

When CU and Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011, the conference established the final weekend of the regular season as "rivalry weekend" and paired the Buffs and Utes because it was a natural pairing.

Utah has a bitter rivalry with BYU, and CU has somewhat of a rivalry with Colorado State, but the CU-Utah rivalry is one that's still developing.

All six meetings between the teams since 2011 have been decided by seven points or less, and this week could help that rivalry grow.


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Both teams come into this week with matching 5-6 records (2-6 in the Pac-12) and both teams need this win to get into a bowl game, so there's plenty at stake.

In 2011, the Pac-12 South title was at stake; all Utah had to do was beat the Buffs to win the South, but CU, despite coming in at 2-10, pulled the upset. Last year, the South title was at stake again, with CU clinching the division by beating the Utes.

"I think that it has now over the years turned into something that there's things at stake," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "Now, both of us are playing for a bowl game."

With higher stakes, the rivalry could develop over time, and MacIntyre is seeing it grow already.

"They have their big rival with BYU and we have our big rival with CSU, but I definitely think that this is something that has turned into a rivalry now," he said.

Durable Lindsay

As a senior at Denver South High School in 2012, Lindsay missed almost the entire season with a torn ACL. Entering his final game as a Buff, he has yet to miss a game in a CU uniform.

Including last year's Alamo Bowl, Saturday's game at Utah would be his 51st at CU, believed to be a school record.

"That was my first goal when I stepped foot on campus," he said. "I wrote on a piece of paper to be able to make sure I played in every single game in my college career. If I can get past the rest of these practices and the game in Utah I would have and then going to the bowl game. It just shows that I'm durable."

It's particularly impressive this year. Despite his 5-foot-8, 190-pound frame, Lindsay leads the country in rushing attempts, with 283 for 1,402 yards.

"I'm up for any challenge, so I would have believed (he could lead the country in carries), because that's the type of person I am," he said. "I'm a soldier, period. I've learned that when you play hard, good things come your way."

Notable

True freshman tight end Jared Poplawski tore his ACL during CU's Nov. 11 loss to USC and is scheduled to have surgery during the Thanksgiving break this week. MacIntyre said the Buffs won't move anyone to tight end for depth, but added, "If we get anybody else hurt, we'd be in trouble (at tight end)." ... Receiver Shay Fields (concussion) is listed as probable to play against the Utes, while defensive backs Isaiah Oliver (leg) and Ryan Moeller (hip) are day-to-day. ... Saturday's game will be MacIntyre's 100th as a head coach. He has a 41-58 record, including 25-37 at CU. ... It will also be game No. 100 for running backs coach Darian Hagan as an assistant (going 43-56).

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.