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Steve Griffin, Deseret News

The Triple Option: Utah State dominates BYU for 2nd-straight year

By Kyle McDonald, Contributor | Posted - Oct 6th, 2018 @ 12:13am

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PROVO — It had been 44 years since Utah State had defeated BYU in back-to-back seasons in The Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel.

Jordan Love and the Utah State football team ended that streak in impressive fashion Friday night in a 45-20 victory over the Cougars.

Love accounted for five touchdowns, the Aggie defense forced three turnovers — including an interception returned for a touchdown — and the Old Wagon Wheel is staying put in Logan for the second-straight season.

Here is the triple option of thoughts from Utah State's victory at LaVell Edwards Stadium Friday night.

Jordan Love is the best quarterback in the state

One of the keys for the Utah State offense was to keep sophomore quarterback Jordan Love clean. Mission accomplished. Love wasn't touched for the majority of the night while completing 18-of-28 passes for 165 yards and four touchdowns. Love also added a two-yard touchdown run to his night that put Utah State up 42-13 early in the fourth quarter.

The Aggies are now 4-1 on the season and have scored 40-plus points in four-straight games for the first time in program history, and their sophomore signal-caller is a major reason why. His confidence in the pocket, the quick reads, and the ability to put some touch on his passing attempts are what really set him apart from the other quarterbacks in the state of Utah.

The biggest thing about Love is that he rarely turns the ball over. Love has only thrown three interceptions this season, compared to his nine touchdowns. Utah State has its offense rolling and with Love at the helm, and there is no ceiling for how good the Aggies can be offensively going forward.

Utah State dominates in the trenches

Would you be surprised if I told you that it was Utah State who racked up the 223 rushing yards? Well, don't be. The Aggies owned the trenches all night long, opening holes for Darwin Thompson and Gerold Bright, who combined for 172 yards.

As mentioned above, Love was also kept clean all night. About the only time Love was on the grass was on two of his three rushing attempts, and that was when he got tackled after a short gain. The Utah State offensive line didn't allow a sack on the night.

Not only was the Utah State rushing attack efficient, the Aggie defensive line owned the BYU offensive line, holding the Cougars to just 39 yards rushing. Prior to BYU's final scoring drive late in the fourth quarter, the Aggies had held BYU to just 14 rushing yards.

Similar to 2017, turnovers play huge part in Utah State win

It didn't take long for the Utah State defense to make its mark in the rivalry game. Facing a fourth and inches on BYU's second drive, Tipa Galeai took an errant Tanner Mangum pass and returned it 56 yards to the house to put Utah State up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

The Aggies followed that up with a fumble recovery two drives later that led to another Utah State touchdown, making it 21-0 with 12:23 left in the first half.

Senior safety Jontrell Rocquemore capped the turnover frenzy with a strip sack fumble recovery late in the third quarter. That led to a Love 2-yard touchdown run to make it 42-13 with 12:03 to play.

The Utah State defense has forced 10 turnovers combined in back-to-back wins over BYU and outscored the Cougars 85-44 in the two contests.

Focus and maturity were words Utah State head coach Matt Wells used to describe his team's preparation leading into Friday night. With the win, Utah State is now 7-0 under Wells following a bye week.

Kyle McDonald is sports fan who loves the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter at @kylesportsbias

Kyle McDonald

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