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Utah State returns to conference play in control of its own destiny

By Kyle McDonald, Contributor | Posted - Oct. 12, 2018 at 8:59 a.m.

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LOGAN — For the Utah State football team, the road to a Mountain West Conference championship got a little interesting following the Aggies' dismantling of BYU, and after San Diego State beat Boise State in Boise on Saturday.

There is a still a lot of football to play, but with seven games remaining, all against MWC foes, and a one-game lead over Boise State, the Aggies control their own destiny.

Utah State doesn't have to face either Fresno State or San Diego State unless they were to meet in the Mountain West Conference championship game.

The combined record of Utah State's remaining opponents is 17-21. But trips to the high plains of Laramie to take on Wyoming, to the Hawaiian Islands to take on the Warriors and back-to-back road trips to end the season at Colorado State and Boise State are challenges.

So the stage is set and now the Aggies have to take care of business.

"Our end goal is to win the Mountain West," senior saftey Jontrell Rocquemore said following the BYU win. "(It’s) to stay focused on our end goals we want to complete for this year is to be Mountain West champs. We've been saying this since the spring, so it's embedded in our heads."

Utah State has had its opportunities in the past to win the Mountain West Conference crown. The Aggies lost to Fresno State in the inaugural Mountain West Conference championship game in 2013. One year later, the Aggies lost at Boise State in the regular season finale that determined the Mountain Division champion.

However, there is something different about the 2018 version of Utah State football that has made believers out of Aggie fans.

"I think they do expect to win," Utah State head coach Matt Wells said following the win over BYU. "I think they expect to play well. And they know if we play well, we're going to put ourselves in a position to go win a game.

“It's (maturity) starting to show up. But, I see it in practice,” he added. “I take confidence in the way they practice and in the way they invest, and I think that's a sign of their maturity.

The road to its second appearance in the Mountain West Conference championship starts Saturday afternoon in Maverik Stadium where Utah State hosts UNLV in its homecoming game.

"Our guys are going to be excited to play back in the Mountain West and that's our big focus at home, and it's homecoming," Wells said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to continue to create the best home-field advantage in the Mountain West here at Maverik Stadium."

Led by sophomore quarterback Jordan Love, who earned Mountain West Conference Player of the Week honors after throwing four touchdowns and rushing for another in the Aggies' win over BYU, Utah State is looking for its fifth straight win. The win streak has seen the Utah State offense set a school record by scoring 40-plus points in four straight games.

Utah State has also scored 30-plus points in its first five games of the season which is tied third behind UCF, Appalachian State, Alabama and Georgia for longest streaks of scoring 30-plus points.

The Aggie defense has been rock solid, as well. Utah State is seventh in the nation in turnovers forced with 13 and is only allowing 19.2 points per game during the four-game win streak. Overall, the Utah State defense is allowing 23 points per game.

Again, with seven games left on the 2018 schedule, there is a lot of football to play. However, sitting at 4-1 overall and 1-0 in Mountain West Conference play, Utah State controls its own destiny and in its goal to win a conference championship.

Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. MT at Maverik Stadium and can be seen on Facebook or heard on the Aggie Radio Network 1280 AM. Kyle McDonald is sports fan who loves the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter at @kylesportsbias

Kyle McDonald

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