LOGAN — The Utah State Aggies travel to Provo Friday night to take on the Cougars of BYU in the Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel for the second season in a row.
USU head coach Gary Andersen has been very vocal this week about his displeasure of the situation.
“Hopefully this is the last time we have to go back there two times in a row. It's a very difficult place to play. I think we go every year to very difficult venues, but from what I hear none of them match BYU's stadium or Utah's stadium," said Andersen. "I know it goes the same way about our place because they don't want to come here and play us anymore, obviously.”
- Utah State (4-1, 0-0) at BYU (3-2)
- Date/Time: Friday, Oct. 5, 2012 8:15 p.m. MT
- Site: LaVell Edwards Stadium
- TV: ESPN
- Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM 1160 AM
- Series Record: BYU leads 44-34-3
- Last Meeting: BYU won 27-24, 9/30/11
- Kickoff Weather: Breezy, temps in the mid-50s
Utah State has much to play for this coming Friday. The Aggies are off to their best start since 1978 and look to improve their record to 5-1. As potent as both offenses can be, this game could be a defensive struggle. The Cougars are giving up just 10.0 points per game while Utah State is nearly as stingy giving up an impressively low 14.2 points per game itself.
As harsh as Andersen was about the back-to-back away games, he was equally full of praise for the Cougars defensively. “They are a tremendous team. They are very physical on defense. They are very well-coached on defense. … Not a lot of weaknesses in that defensive system.”
Cougar head coach Bronco Mendenhall reciprocated the praise, saying: “Offensively, they have a lot of weapons. Spreading the field, the run game, mobile quarterback and a good scheme … I’m impressed.”
Based on those two quotes, the Aggies' dominance in the first halves of games will be put to the test. Utah State has outscored its opponents 51-0 in the first quarter so far this year and 85-16 in the first-half. UNLV was the first team to score a touchdown in the first half against Utah State. Here's an interesting stat for the Aggies: They have trailed for a grand total of just 21:27 out of a possible 300 minutes so far this season.
A couple of Aggies had career days against the Rebels; sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton and senior running back Kerwynn Williams both set career highs. Keeton threw for an impressive 404 yards with the help of Williams, who set career numbers in catches and yards, seven for 147, including a 74-yard touchdown reception (which is also a career high for Williams). Senior wide receiver Chuck Jacobs also had a game to remember as he recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game as he went for 101 yards including a career-long 50-yard touchdown catch.
To say that things will not be as easy against the Cougars is an understatement, but the Aggies are playing at a very high level on both sides of the ball. Utah State has the opportunity to take the Beehive Boot for the second time in three years and for the eighth time since the inception of the trophy in 1971. Look for Andersen and his staff to have their squad prepped and ready to go against the Cougars on their home field.
Justin McKissick is a KSL.com contributor originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently seeking a Communications degree. Justin has been covering USU sports since 2011. Follow him on Twitter: @justin_sr.