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Keys to the Game: Utah State vs. Wyoming

Keys to the Game: Utah State vs. Wyoming

By Tavin Stucki, Contributor | Posted - Oct. 7, 2011 at 1:53 p.m.

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LOGAN, Utah — The Utah State Aggies will take on the Wyoming Cowboys in what used to be considered a rivalry game, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m for the first time since 2007.

The question USU head coach Gary Andersen needs to answer is how and if his team will learn to finish a game with a win.

The Aggies have just come off a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds on the road to Brigham Young, which dropped them to 1-3.

Andersen said the Aggies need to find a way to win games at the end.

“Lightning does not strike in the same place three times in a row,” Andersen said. “We need to evaluate the program from A to Z and see what we can do better as coaches, see what the kids can do better as players and understand exactly where we are at. We are where we are, and we are here for a reason.”

Running back Robert Turbin has 10 touchdowns on the season, but said he blames himself for the losses the Aggies have sustained so far. Turbin brings 2,286 career rushing yards into Saturday’s game.

“We just have to find a way to win these games,” he said. “We get teams on the ropes, we play well for three-and-a-half quarters, and then for some reason we can’t make plays at the end.”

Wyoming comes into the game 3-1 and fresh off a 38-14 loss to No. 9 Nebraska.

Earlier in the season, the Cowboys came back from behind to beat Football Championship Subdivision team Weber State University on a late touchdown pass with 22 seconds left to win 35-32.

Utah State demolished the Wildcats 54-17 a week later, so on paper Utah State should easily get a victory over the Cowboys.

What to watch for:

Utah State comes into the game No. 5 in the nation in rushing, averaging 307.5 yards per game. Turbin and running backs Michael Smith and Kerwynn Williams will be a tough challenge for the Wyoming front seven.

“It’s been a triple-headed monster that’s been pretty effective to this point,” Andersen said of his running backs.

The Wyoming defense is led by junior college transfer Korey Jones, who currently leads Wyoming in sacks with four and tackles for loss with 5.5. The 6-foot-2 junior linebacker is tied for No. 7 in the NCAA in sacks, and is tied for No. 34 in the nation in tackles for loss.

When Wyoming has the ball:

The Cowboys are led by quarterback Brett Smith, who is the only freshman quarterback in the nation to lead his team to a winning record so far this season. The 6-foot-3 true freshman has seven touchdowns to four interceptions and completed 85 of 143 passes thus far. Smith has had three 300-yard games in terms of total offense this season.

Andersen said Wyoming has an effective offense.

“Obviously they play well enough to win games,” Andersen said. “They are a big offensive line. It’s a spread offense for the most part and they want to be able to throw the ball and take some shots down the field with the play action, with a young quarterback who is doing a nice job in my opinion, and two running backs who run the ball well.”

Aggie senior defensive back Chris Harris said the Wyoming team knows how to win football games.

“They have been winning and we have got to come to play,” Harris said. “This is a tough opponent, every Division I game is tough. We are just going to have to come out and play.”

Tavin Stucki is a sophomore journalism student at Utah State University. He is the sports editor and football beat writer for the Utah Statesman, the Aggie campus newspaper. Twitter: @tavinstucki

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