The Varsity Cup final is set for 1pm MT Saturday at BYU’s South Field Stadium in Provo, Utah, and the crowd is expected to be extremely partisan.
“My guess is it’ll be 5,800 BYU supporters and about 200 Cal supporters,” Cal coach Jack Clark said.
BYU has never lost to a collegiate opponent at South Field, but they’ve never played Cal there. The Bears are 9-1 all time against BYU, with one of those wins coming in Provo at BYU’s previous pitch. Cal’s lone loss to BYU came in the Bears’ neck of the woods – Palo Alto, Calif. – in the 2009 National Championship Game.
The last meeting between Cal and BYU was the 2011 DI-A National Championship in the Cougars’ backyard – Rio Tinto Stadium. Cal won, and that result has given the Bears’ confidence heading into Saturday’s on-campus clash.
“I got a little taste of [BYU’s home field advantage] two years ago in the championship at Rio,” said Cal prop Tanner Mohr. “Those fans will be after you, so we’ll have to be ready for that, but once the game starts we’ve got to shut all that out.”
"It will be a steep challenge, no doubt,” said Clark of winning in Provo, “but so was winning in 2011 in Salt Lake City, which was hardly a neutral site. Listen, it's a difficult ask because they're a talented team no matter where the match is contested."
While it’s rare that a major National Championship game is being played on the campus of one of its contenders, it’s not unprecedented.
Four times USA Rugby’s DI National Championship game has been held on the campus of a team that competed in either the semifinals or final, with the host team hoisting the trophy thrice.
On two of those occasions, 1995 and 1997, Cal won the National Title in Berkeley, Calif. In 1989, one of the few years Cal hasn’t reached the final four, Air Force won in Colorado Springs. And in 1992, Cal won in Colorado Springs.